Nizhal (meaning ‘shade’ in Tamil) is an NGO that came into being in September 2005 to promote concern for trees in urban areas, particularly Chennai. Nizhal focuses on sensitive greening which in the long run will help in regenerating the vanishing biodiversity of local flora and fauna.
Siemens, a corporate with a commendable record of CSR values tied up with Nizhal to conceptualize and implement the ‘Go Green’ initiative, a landmark project in Gandhi Nagar, Adyar in November 2008. This initiative is the first of its kind in Chennai as it is focused on holistic greening of the entire neighbourhood through the student community and volunteers from Siemens. In this project, 9 educational institutions in Gandhi Nagar participated.
The year-long project has been entirely funded by Siemens and included the following components:
Awareness programs included talking point presentations on tree issues, tree walks and tree surveys in and around the educational institution.
Tree surveys and Tree Walks inside the campuses, in some institutions, were followed by sessions where the students and teachers learnt how to make name boards which can be displayed in a tree friendly manner.
‘Free the Tree Campaigns’ , in some institutions, involved students in activities that help prevent tree abuse, like removing advertisement boards nailed onto trees.
Planting of trees included the planting of 100 saplings in and around the neighbourhood, with a systematic plan for their maintenance factored in by Siemens.
Siemens employees participated enthusiastically in the project and have put in great effort to conduct tree surveys across the neighbourhood, to identify number of tree species, types of tree abuse and care needed for the trees in the neighbourhood. Siemens volunteers have also played a major role in involving school children to take this project to a qualitative level.
The educational institutions involved are
Kumara Rani Meena Muthiah School
Kumara Rani Meena Muthiah College
Bala Vidya Mandir
Rani Meyyamai Higher Secondary School
St. Michaels Higher Secondary School
St. Louis School for the Blind
St. Patricks Matriculation School
St. Marks Primary School
Eco friendly trophies
To complete this project, an event has been organized on the 21st of November’09 at St. Patricks School between 9.00 AM and 11.30 AM. The program will comprise of a tree quiz, sharing of experiences by students and volunteers, drawing up an action plan for a greener neighbourhood and distribution of certificates.
This project is replicable in other neighbourhoods, and we hope other corporates will follow the Siemens example!