Trees+ : Transcending Conventions, Uplifting Communities

Trees+ : Transcending Conventions, Uplifting Communities

By Catherine Andrews

Grow-Trees team members recent visit to the seaweed cultivation site

For the past two years, Grow-Trees with the support of DCB Bank has been empowering coastal communities in Tamil Nadu, Southern India, through their Trees+ initiative. This initiative combines mangrove reforestation efforts with seaweed cultivation to create sustainable livelihood opportunities. Primarily focused on afforestation projects across India, Grow-Trees strategically diversified its impact by turning to the ocean. Today, the organisation provides expertise and equipment to fishing communities, enabling them to cultivate seaweed. The goal is to promote self-sufficiency by equipping these communities with essential resources, including bamboo rafts, nets, ropes, anchors, seaweed seedlings, etc.

Harvested seaweed (Species Kappaphycus alvarezi)

In recent years, seaweed (a marine algae) has emerged as a remarkable resource, offering a multitude of benefits to both the environment and society. Recognised for its ability to absorb carbon, mitigate ocean acidification, and serve as a renewable source of food, energy, and medicine, seaweed has sparked global interest. 

The cultivated species, Kappaphycus alvarezii, also known as elkhorn sea moss, is a red algae native to the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Tanzania. While its natural habitat lies in Southeast Asia, seaweeds are also found along the coasts of Tamil Nadu and Gujarat in India, as well as around Lakshadweep and Andaman & Nicobar Islands. Grow-Trees and DCB bank provide infrastructure required for seaweed cultivation, the communities are trained to follow required steps to harvest the plant. Following processing, cleaning, and drying, the communities sell their seaweed and earn income thereby.

Female beneficiaries preparing the rafts 

From 2022 to 2023, Grow-Trees with their impact ally, DCB Bank have generated employment for 91 families, granting them an additional income. In 2024, the plan is to support 29 additional families.

Beneficiaries of the program

The impact of this initiative transcends mere economic gains. For the fishing families of Ramnad District, seaweed cultivation represents a lifeline amidst uncertain times. The harvest cycle ensures a steady flow of income, supplementing livelihoods and mitigating the impact of sporadic fishing yields. Moreover, the project empowers women to actively contribute to household incomes, encouraging gender equality and socioeconomic progress within these communities.

Impact Stories

Mohammed Noogu and family

Mohammed Noogu, the senior-most seaweed trainer and beneficiary, has been cultivating seaweed for the past 20 years since completing his 12th standard. He leverages his extensive knowledge to train individuals who have received rafts, guiding them in cultivation techniques while also continuing to cultivate seaweed for his own family.


Hasina the long standing resident of the village and one of the women beneficiaries was able to complete the construction of a much needed bathroom and lavatory in her home.

Inul Jaria

Inul Jaria used to live in huts before she started working on seaweed cultivation. After receiving 5 rafts her life changed, as she completed painting of her house and completed the roofing of the first floor with the income earned.

Uththiravalli and her husband

Uththiravalli and her husband are also oldest residents of this village and have fishing as their primary occupation. After receiving 5 rafts, they were able to build their own house using the additional income earned through the seaweed cultivation.

Organisations seeking to contribute to such impactful initiatives are encouraged to contact us at