We are proud to be associated with companies like TATA AIA Life Insurance, who are not only ensuring the life of their customers but also of marginalized tribal communities of India. Their core value of considering the consumer paramount and creating distinctive opportunities for development is truly prevalent in any activity undertaken by them.
TATA AIA had also recently launched its latest brand philosophy, #RakshaKaranKiReet which proves how protecting the near and dear ones is an intrinsic trait with most Indians, which is reflected in the myriad cultural customs that are followed across all regions. Aligning their work towards their brand philosophy, TATA AIA has worked towards the “raksha” (protection) of not only us, but also our future generations, environment, wildlife and local tribal communities through their association with Grow-Trees.com.
Yes, you heard us right.
With their inspirational vision, TATA AIA Life Insurance has collaborated with Grow-Trees.com to initiate a tree-planting project of 50,000 trees in 2019 on the fringes of Simlipal National Park, District Mayurbhanj, Odisha on the community-owned lands, to reclaim degraded lands as primary forests, strengthen forest-based livelihood opportunities for local communities, protect the habitat of endangered species, uplift rural economy and rejuvenate water table.
Simlipal National Park is one of India’s oldest tiger reserves. Located in the area of undulating topography, rising from 600 metres (2,000 ft) to 1,500 metres (4,900 ft), Mayurbhanj is home to a very fertile soil profile due to the passing of at least 12 rivers from there. But, the state of Odisha is not alien to the global menace of deforestation. In fact, the net decline in the forest cover of Odisha alone is 40.5 per cent of the total forest from 1935 to 2010. This massive decline in forests has resulted in the reduction of rainfall, increase in the frequency of floods and droughts and topsoil erosion.
With a vast area of 2,750 sq. km, the park is home to tigers, prey species and elephants. Also, melanistic or black tigers have been found in this region. A group of researchers from Bengaluru-based National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) have begun their study into why a small chunk of tigers found in Odisha are melanistic. According to the Down To Earth magazine, normal tigers are giving birth to black or melanistic tigers and even normal cubs are being delivered by the black or melanistic tigresses. An increase in the number of melanistic tigers holds great implications for tree plantation activities and consequent habitat protection in this region. The trees supported here by TATA AIA Life Insurance will be significantly helping in maintaining and improving the natural habitat for these animal species, especially tigers. The improved natural landscape will, in turn, reduce the man-animal conflict in the region. The lush and dense forests will also provide the tigers with a comfortable natural habitat, shade, reduce water and air temperatures and contribute to the overall health of tigers. These natural habitats are not only well suited for big mammals like tigers but also attract other herbivores animals like elephant and hill mynah, leopard, sambar, barking deer, gaur, jungle cat, wild boar, four-horned antelope, giant squirrel and common langur. Grey hornbill, Indian pied hornbill and Malabar pied hornbill are also found here. Where tigers thrive, so do other diverse plants and animals. Such a natural habitat provides a host of animals as prey for tigers.
Additionally, lush green forests will provide sub-adult male tigers a safe territory to move out as once they hit their adulthood, they are forced by their fathers to move out to find new territories. Additionally, these dispersing sub-adult males are often the ones that use a corridor and get to the adjacent protected area in search of territories. While passing through these corridors, tigers confront a range of challenges such as hostile villagers, retaliatory poisoning of livestock kills, poaching of tigers and prey, electrocution by live wires, apart from road and rail traffic. For this purpose, forest cover in the buffer zone will provide a natural habitat for tigers to find their new territories and reduce the human-animal conflict.
Changes related to the ecosystem are interrelated and hence, trees will be acting as a catalyst for several other changes in this region. These trees will be offsetting carbon from the atmosphere at the rate of ~20 kgs per tree upon maturity and would be providing a retreat for pollution-free air for urban dwellers. Also, the active participation of local communities in every step of the plantation activities has already created over 4,093 workdays and rural economic prosperity and empowerment for the longer term. Such projects will also encourage sustainable resource management amongst local communities. The project region is inhabited by a variety of tribe communities. Prominent among these are Bhumija, Gondas, Kolha, Santhala and Mankadia. Most of them are settled agriculturists and supplementing their income by being dependent on various forest resources. Many conservation practices associated these tribes have been on the decline due to the various factors including the increasing influence of modern civilization, increasing human population and decreasing wildlife availability (WWF-India); thus, the large scale plantation will improve the ecosystem services with the access of local communities to the collection of fuelwood, and another minor forest produces, thereby also contribute to reviving the traditional conservation cultures. Moreover, the increased vegetation in the region will help not just in controlling soil erosion, but will also improve moisture conservation, enhance water table in the region, contribute towards the prevention of the severe drought and flood conditions of the region and forest fires.
In their another collaboration with Grow-Trees.com , 100,000 trees were planted by TATA AIA Life Insurance on the community lands of the upper catchments of the Papagani River, in the villages of Venkatakrishnahalli, Dibburhalli Gram Panchayat, Siddlaghatta Taluka, Chikkaballapur District; G Cherlopalli, Grothpalli Grama Panchayat, Bagepalli Taluka, Chikkaballapur District; Laxmipura Grama Panchayat, Srinivaspura Taluka, Kolar District in Chintamani, Karnataka, India. Trees in this project have proved successful in improving the effects of soil erosion and the water-run off. The consequent non-timber forest resources will increase in providing for the local communities’ personal consumption and for selling the surplus in local markets. The leaves of Butea for crafting leaf plates, grass for making broomsticks, berries, etc. will provide commercial opportunities to build a small-scale forest-based industry, thus, providing a steady income source to the forest dwellers. The continuous regeneration of the trees will ensure the steady flow of resources ensuring stainability. The trees, when mature, will provide food and fodder to the cattle, thus, preventing them from venturing inside the forest in the territories of the wild animals.
Hence, forests will help in maintaining the ecological balance holistically.
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