Initiative will also help gather information on impact of climate change
GN Bureau | August 17, 2022
A good monsoon has left the trees all washed and spruced up. It’s right time to take a good look at them, and also to tell the young generation about their diversity. So, tree lovers across the country have joined hands to celebrate a festival of trees this month.
The August Tree Festival is being held from 15th to 31st. The participants are to go outdoors and observe 166 common tree species.
The festival has two challenges - to observe more than 200 trees and as many Ficus trees as possible during the 17 days. One school and one individual will be declared the winners of each challenge based on a lucky draw of all participants who finish the challenges.
“For the tree festival, people from all over India will be simultaneously observing trees for a few days. Interacting with people and encouraging them to share their findings with us is rewarding. Through these festivals, we hope to make treewatching as mainstream as birdwatching,” says Sayee Girdhari, the SeasonWatch project coordinator.
SeasonWatch, an India-wide citizen science project, is collating information about seasonal changes in trees to understand the impact of climate change in India.
Even though we know climate change is real, understanding its impact is an ongoing task. One simple way of documenting this impact is by observing the seasonal changes in trees around us. As seasons change, so do the trees around us. Different kinds of trees in India produce flowers, fruits and new leaves or shed old leaves in particular seasons. This seasonal behaviour forms the basis for studying the impact of climate change on trees, and by extension on the lives of all other organisms dependent on trees. Tropical trees are diverse owing to the geographical and climatic diversity of India. This diversity makes it tricky to study the response of trees to climate change as each kind of tree behaves differently in different parts of the country. This is where citizen scientists can help – by observing trees in their neighbourhoods across the country.
SeasonWatch organises quarterly tree festival events as a way of reaching out and inspiring citizen scientists to contribute observations on the trees around them. The ongoing August Tree Festival is one such event.
Nature Conservation Society Nashik (NCSN), a collaborator of SeasonWatch, shares their experience about a previous event - April Tree Festival - saying, “We have been monitoring trees for the past two years. We have been participating in Tree festivals and from this year we have initiated a year-long project to document seasonal tree patterns of 32 tree species of Maharashtra's first Conservation Reserve - Borgad. During the April Tree festival we organised an Instagram live with Sayee as an awareness session in Marathi. We are encouraging the members of Nature Conservation Society of Nashik to participate in tree festivals by observing trees around them. We have planned to involve school children in the August Tree festival as well.”
Dr.Geetha Ramaswami, the project lead of SeasonWatch and a participant of the tree festivals, adds, “I had fun during the April tree festival because I got the opportunity to compare the trees I have been monitoring over the past three years in April. I had coincidentally taken photos of the same tree in April 2021 and ’22 and it was amazing to see how nearly identical the tree looked!”
For more information about this event in Hindi, Gujarati, Bangla, Marathi, Telugu, Kannada, Tamil and Malayalam: https://bit.ly/3PpmI15
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