In 2018, Shyam Sundar Jyani, an Associate Professor from Government Dungar College in Bikaner, Rajasthan came up with the unique concept of familial forestry or domesticating trees to conserve the environment for the first time.
Today his efforts are getting recognized worldwide and he has bagged the UN’s prestigious Land for Life Award. The announcement came through the UN Convention on Combat Desertification (UNCCD).
It stated in its tweet, “For 15 years, they have worked with hundreds of villages to plant trees in Rajasthan. Their idea to make the tree a green family member is really taking root.”
The “Land for Life Award” is a significant achievement, considered to be the world’s highest reward regarding land conservation and restoration. This year, given under the theme of “Healthy Lands, Healthy Lives,” Jyani was chosen by the UNCCD from a list of 12 shortlisted candidates across the globe.
There were two candidates from India, the other being Jaggi Vasudev, popularly known as Sadguru who has advocated for environmental campaigns in the country over the years.
In an interview to India Today, after winning the award, Jyani said “It is an honor for me that our concept of Familial Forestry got recognition from a UN body.
It will give our environment conservation campaign more confidence. It is a very happy day for me personally. My efforts have been recognized.”
Jyani under the concept of familial forestry encourages the villagers to plant fruit trees in their house and care for the plants as family members. Launched in 2006 from a desert village in Bikaner’s Himtasar, over the years, the concept has been replicated by more than 200,000 families with more than 750,000 trees planted in around 2,600 desert villages of north-west Rajasthan. This concept was introduced in the year 2018.
Jyani simplified his idea, “familial forestry is an idea that is based on head, hand and heart and involvement of families, especially students, in learning about the environment.
Familial forestry is a way through which we can engage every household in growing forests,” he said.
He believes in the advantages of the grafted trees which can bring revolutionary changes in the biodiversity of the deserts in western Rajasthan and also help villagers in fighting malnutrition as the fruit is very nutritious.
The UNCCD in its statement said, “Familial Forestry means transferring the care of tree and environment in the family so that a tree becomes a part of the family’s consciousness.
More than a million families from more than 15,000 villages of desert-prone northwest Rajasthan in over 2.5 million saplings have been planted in the past 15 years, with the active participation of students and desert dwellers.”
The Land for the Life Award ceremony will take place in August at the Eighth Kubuqi International Desert Forum in China. The award winner will also have an opportunity to present their work at the UNCCD Fifteenth Conference of the Parties UNCCD COP15.
Jyani took to Twitter to express his gratefulness for the award, his tweet read, “Express heartfelt gratitude to #UNCCD and entire #FamilialForestry activists. #LandForLife award will definitely fortify and encourage the concept and cause of familial forestry. I dedicate this award to the farmer community.”