“Say Trees” with Kapil Sharma
A software engineer by profession, his heart belongs to the environment. Kapil Sharma, one of the founders of “SayTrees” (a non-profit organization dedicated to saving the environment), shares his passion and journey in paving an eco-friendly path before it is too late. He is an inspiration for the youth, who struggles to create a balance between the real and virtual worlds, by connecting them to nature and re-igniting its importance.
We all know how our resources are depleting each day and people are becoming apathetic towards the environment. In times like these, how was “SayTrees” conceptualized? Tell us about the beginning of this very noble journey of saving the planet.
I have been living in Bangalorefor 11 years and within the span of these 11 years, I have seen a drastic change in Bangalore’s climatic condition owing to a reduction in the green cover. So, five years back, I decided to start an initiative that will help in increasing the green cover. Initially, I started with few saplings and then I started approaching Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike [BBMP] (Greater Bangalore Municipal Corporation) officers to get more information on places where we can plant saplings. Since I am a software engineer by profession, I used to visit BBMP offices on Saturdays to get hold of someone who is equally passionate about trees. I also started approaching various companies and organizations that wanted to do something for the nature and this has been continuing since then. Now, I am approached by many companies each year and numbers of trees that are planted have also increased annually.
So, this is how “SayTrees” came into existence?
Yes. I feel bad when I see a tree being brought down. That is why I am passionate about this cause and it drives me to plant an increasing number of trees every time.
Do you work alone on this or you have a dedicated group of people?
I started alone and, in 2010, I came across equally passionate people who were doing similar things. So we got together, and now we have around five people who I can say are very much dedicated to the cause. Also, there are many volunteers who always join us in our plantations and the count of such people increases after every plantation that we do.
You said you are a software engineer, how do you manage work and “SayTrees”?
Sometime it becomes tough during weekdays, otherwise, I do all plantation related work over the weekend. On weekdays, I manage all of the things which can be done over the phone.
Is it difficult to get volunteers considering people are prone to apathy?
At times, otherwise we get a decent number of volunteers. I try to promote events in unique ways, which makes people join us.
Can you give us any example of your unique ways of promotion?
Last year we wanted to do a plantation in Gunjurpalya forest. It’s a little far from the center of the city, and I had doubts about whether people would join the event or not. So, I first went to see the place and captured the location through my lens. Since I have an eye for photography, I took some really nice pictures which I started spreading on Facebook to all photography lovers, asking them to attend the event, take pictures and plant saplings as well.
I also shared another picture, where I asked parents to get their kids to this forest and let them feel nature at its best. A lot of kids joined us along with their parents in that event.
Another picture was sent to biker groups as there was a nice trail for bikers, and the result was such that many bikers also joined us and we had a successful event.
Apart from tree plantation, what are the other steps that “SayTrees” is taking to get the green back?
We are trying to spread the message to as many people as possible, asking them to take care of saplings which are already planted. I have also attended seminars in various colleges and gave presentation in colleges like SIBM, Welingkar etc. I also participated in a marathon for two years wearing a tree bark costume. Basically we want to create awareness in such a way that people take initiative, plant saplings each year and take care of them.
Once the plantation is done, what are the measures that you take for the stable growth of the trees?
Many measures are taken during plantation which ensures high survival rate. For example, we choose a place where we know saplings are safe from human beings and animals. Then, we plant huge saplings which are 8-12 feet tall and 2-3 years old. This also ensures high survival. After plantation we water the saplings when needed and, whenever it is possible, we visit the plantation site to make sure that the saplings are surviving.
How often are “SayTrees” activities organized? How can people be a part of this organization?
We do major plantation during monsoon, May till October. This is the best time for plantation. To be a part of “SayTrees”, people can join our Facebook page – SAVE TREES (http://www.facebook.com/pages/SAVE-TREES/237779238788), Facebook group -Bangalore tree planting (http://www.facebook.com/groups/bangaloretreeplanting/), Google group - firstname.lastname@example.org.They can also visit our website - saytrees.org.
When you organize these activities where anyone can participate and understand their responsibility as a resident of earth, what are the challenges that you face while organizing and executing these activities?
The biggest challenge is getting permission to plant the saplings in any premises and then, getting the pits done for the saplings.
Are there any provisions from our government?
Many BBMP officers help us in suggesting the place and the saplings. Sometimes, they provide us with saplings as they have to keep their plantation numbers in mind otherwise we buy them from private nurseries or even purchase them from BBMP nurseries.
Tell us an interesting anecdote that happened during these activities, something that got you motivated.
Last year during our plantation on Dickenson road, people passing by were shouting “thank you” for our work. It was an amazing feeling.
What are the future projects?
We are planting 300 saplings next week with Hindustan Petroleum, 100 saplings with Capgemini. I also got a call from Mcafee today for plantation, so hopefully that will be on our list too.
As of now “SayTrees” activity happens in Bangalore. Would you be expanding the “SayTrees” territory to other cities/states?
I always wish to expand this initiative in other cities. I keep talking to my friends in other cities about the idea. It will happen someday.
What are the small steps that each one of us can take in our day-to-day life for saving our environment? Would you like to give a message to our readers?
I just want people to imagine how our surroundings would be if there are no trees around us. I am sure everyone will be scared. With an increase in the number of vehicles every day and a decrease in the number of saplings, we have to protect each sapling. So I would like people to plant one sapling each and every year. It’s not a rocket science, just plant one sapling each year on birthdays, or any such occasions. People have started attending tree plantation parties. We ourselves have organized two such plantation parties on birthdays, where people were invited to plant saplings. So, plant trees to save our planet before all the green is lost and it is too late to recover.
Image Source [http://www.saytrees.org/bangaloreMarathon2011.html]