Go Green, Grow-Trees
Hitisha Jain 21 March 2014

Grow-Trees helps the environment by bringing in corporate systems, processes and a feel-good factor into the simple task of planting trees.

When Pradip Shah, the founder-managing director of CRISIL (Credit Research and Information Services of India Limited) provided technical assistance to a credit rating agency in India, they didn’t honour him with a memento or a plaque. Instead, they planted 100 trees in his honour. The idea to do something similar began to germinate in his mind ever since. Finally, on 5 June 2010, World Environment Day, he teamed up with his son Karan to launch a social enterprise called Grow-Trees. Ask someone who lives in a city or even a town about when was the last time they planted a tree and you would probably draw a blank stare. Some would mumble about not having the time, space or opportunity. Grow-Trees provides the answer; it allows you to do so by clicking a few keys. Grow-Trees.com provides a platform to individuals or companies to plant a tree on public land and offer those trees through co-branded e-Tree Certificates. It also allows you to gift a tree in a manner that is convenient and affordable as well as the satisfaction of doing something for the environment.  

“Our idea is to inculcate the practice of planting trees amongst companies and individuals through the web and to dedicate trees to greet or honour someone by means of an e-certificate with a personalised message. Companies can also put their logo on the certificate,” says Pradip Shah, who is now handling this alone while son Karan has taken a sabbatical to get an MBA from Harvard Business School. Recalling the early days of starting the enterprise, he says, “There were a few hurdles like finding credible planting partners, creating a user-friendly website, creating a good team,” but its record of planting over 674,000 trees in under four years, tells its own story. “These projects benefit wildlife as well as rural communities. A study in our planting area in Panchmahal found that villagers would have to spend 40% of their cash income on cooking fuel alone if they did not get biomass from trees!” says Mr Shah. If you want to plant a tree in someone’s memory or as a birthday gift, you can do it for just Rs60. The recipient gets a personalised e-certificate on the date specified; the person gifting also receives a confirmation email—all online. Since the trees are planted on government land, you can even choose the location of your tree.

The major projects so far are: 100,000-tree project at Kumbhalgarh Sanctuary (Rajasthan), 19,000-tree project for communities in Panchmahal district (Gujarat); 30,000-tree project at Satkosia Gorge Wildlife Sanctuary (Odisha); 29,990-tree project for communities in Udaipur (Rajasthan); and 100,000-tree project for wildlife at Sariska (Rajasthan). Eight projects, across six states in India, are ongoing.

The variety of trees planted depends on the agro-climatic conditions and their benefits in terms of flowers, fruits, fodder, fuel and non-timber forest produce for the local community as well as insects, birds and animals. All trees are species indigenous to the site to maintain biodiversity. Some of trees planted are: karanj, bamboo, soap nut, arjuna, custard apple, mango, amla, kala siris, khair, mahogany and jungle jalebi.

Pradip Shah started this social enterprise by investing his own funds to cover all start-up costs—from creating the online platform and website, screening and enrolment of planting partners and funding the initial nurseries. Individuals and companies now use the Grow-Trees platform to plant trees and utilise its customised e-Tree Certificate. The organisation doesn’t rely on tax concessions like other charities; it wants government resources to be conserved for the more pressing welfare needs.

G3, Scheherazade,
Justice Vyas Road, Colaba,
Mumbai 400 005
Tel: (91 22) 2288 1301/ 2284 2897
Fax: (91 22) 2283 0376
http://www.grow-trees.com/ Email: [email protected]

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