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Forget Farmville! Use your mouse, plant a tree
SHWETA SHARMA  1st May 2011

Members of Grow-Trees.com with a local community in Kelan ki Heri village in Rajasthan

emember FarmVille, the online game on Facebook that roped in more than 62 million players worldwide to tend to virtual farms? To me, it seemed like a waste of time as no real fruits or veggies grew on these virtual green fields. I'd rather log on to Grow-Trees.com, a web-based platform which makes it possible to plant trees at the click of a mouse. Started by Pradip Shah, founder of the credit rating company CRISIL, this platform gives people who are passionate about the environment but don't have the resources to go and physically plant a tree.

"Pradip was honoured with a garden of 100 trees in Israel for the technical knowledge he provided to their rating agency. The Jewish National Fund has planted 240 million trees in Israel since 1901, inculcating a tradition of planting trees amongst the Jewish diaspora. We want to create a similar culture amongst Indians, of celebrating occasions by planting trees," says Karan Shah, co-founder.

Launched on the Environment Day last year, Grow-Trees gives people a green alternative to the greeting card, provides low-skill jobs, offsets carbon emission and has planted more than 106, 920 tress till now. The venture has also been selected as an official campaign partner of the United Nations Environment Program's Billion Tree Campaign. They plant trees in public lands, wildlife habitats, community holy places, school and hospital grounds, and government-owned de-forested or denuded areas, in partnership with local authorities and communities.

"Users just need to select the number of trees they want to plant and enter the email id of a recipient they want to send them to along with an optional personalised message. The customisable e-certificate allows people to satisfy a private purpose of greeting someone. A tree on GT costs Rs 50 which is almost the same price as a conventional greeting card," Shah told Guardian20.

GT has partnered in several planting projects across India, including a project to restore the mangroves of Dwarka in Gujarat; in the periphery of the tiger reserves in Kanha in MP; Satkosia Gorge in Orissa; Kumbhalgarh in Rajasthan; and on community land in Dahod in Gujarat and Udaipur.

"These projects are all designed to be holistic and to help wildlife, local communities and holy environments or a combination of them. The local communities in most of these areas are disadvantaged and about 60-70% of them live on less than a $1 a day. By giving them fruit, forest produce, fodder and fuel wood (through fallen branches and twigs), these projects significantly improve the lives of rural communities," he concludes.

 
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