“A tree is our most intimate contact with nature.” ― George Nakashima
On 14 May 2021, an online workshop titled “Tree of Life” was organised by INTACH for teachers. More than 75 teachers of the various schools of Delhi participated. The resource persons at the workshop were Ms. Narayani Gupta, noted historian, General Gupta, chairman-INTACH, Dr. Ritu Singh, Director-Natural Heritage Division, INTACH and Mr. Verhean Khanna-founder of Delhi Nature Society, (NGO). Our teachers, Ms. Tincy Kaur and Ms. Srishti Sharma represented The Foundation School at the workshop.
The workshop revolved around the importance of trees in our lives and empowering students to be active participants in the conservation of them.
The session began with Ms. Purnima Datt, Principal Director INTACH, who shared about the restoration works being done by INTACH all over the country. Schools were encouraged to raise environmental awareness among their students. She showed a short video on India’s beautiful monuments, the tangible and intangible heritage of India and the significance of the sustainable use of natural resources.
General Gupta presented a review of the book, ‘Tree of Life’ published by INTACH in 2021. He encouraged teachers to add activities centred around trees in the school curricula, to help in the protection of the environment.
Ms. Narayani Gupta offered a very interesting perspective on the importance of trees. She spoke about the parks of Delhi and the changes that have taken place over the years. She also suggested activities that can be incorporated in school curricula, which will enhance the knowledge of the extensive varieties of trees. She suggested books like “Delhi through its Seasons” by Khushwant Singh and “The Secret Life of Trees” by Gills Davi, to build new knowledge and perspective about trees.
Mrs. Ritu Singh, in her presentation shared the critical factors involved in the efficient growth of trees- Akash, Vayu, Apas, Agni and Prithvi. She shared the consequences of uprooting and destroying trees. She encouraged the participants to motivate students to help enhance the green cover of Delhi by explaining the contribution of trees to human life to them, such as regulating heat, providing oxygen, providing shade and food to sustain life on Earth. She cautioned that life on Earth will be futile without trees as these provide a majestic demonstration of strength and perseverance in times of adversity. She appealed to the participants to make collective efforts to sustain and nurture trees.
Later, Mr. Verhaen Khanna, commercial pilot and environmental activist, shared his experience of working with nature. He narrated his own story of 'tree blindness' and how he later became tree-friendly. Mr. Khanna showcased a few video clips of his work where children were seen 'hugging' and climbing trees. He spoke about how the activity of 'hugging' and climbing on trees is one which is a source of immense joy to the children as it is symbolic of their adopting trees as an integral part of their lives.
The speaker also shared some unfortunate scenes of trees felled by the negligence of human beings. He described how electric wires and concrete around the base of trees, suffocates their growth and weakens the roots. He shared an innovative card game initiative that his organisation has undertaken to make children aware of the diversity of flora. Mr. Khanna shared the “Save Trees” app created by him.
The insightful session ended with a vote of thanks by host, Ms. Purnima Datt. The workshop was indeed a thought provoking and enriching experience. It lent a wider view of the present predicament of the environment and the importance of training future citizens to value the existence of trees for a robust future.