EcoSikh, a global environmental organization, has planted 365 sacred forests in India since March 2019 to counter climate change. Each forest has 550 trees of native species and the total trees planted are 200,000.
The Sacred Forest initiative is an effective climate solution for ecological restoration and EcoSikh is ready to collaborate with governmental organizations and faith groups.
EcoSikh plants sacred forests throughout India using Miyawaki methodology. These sacred forests are named after ‘Guru Nanak’, the founder of Sikh faith. These urban and rural forests attract biodiversity within months and help restore the local ecological imbalance.
Recently EcoSikh planted its 356th sacred forest of 950 trees in the heart of India’s capital city – New Delhi, which also faces severe ecological issues.
In October 2021, EcoSikh president Dr. Rajwant Singh was among the faith representatives who joined an Interfaith meeting hosted by Pope Francis ahead of COP26 at the Vatican. The faith leaders, including Dr. Singh, signed a joint appeal directed at the political leaders gathering in Glasgow to take major steps to reduce the effects of climate change. According to EcoSikh, the strategy to fight climate change should not only be focused on emissions reduction. Actions should be taken to remove from the atmosphere. These sacred forests are ‘carbon sinks’ and they help by reducing the temperature in that area.
EcoSikh plants 550 trees in each forest and each Forests has 35-40 native species of trees. Many of these species have disappeared in India and now EcoSikh has the largest seed bank of these native species and it has its own nursery. These species are of immense value to the local soil and land and they help restore the ecological imbalance.
These forests invite biodiversity within months because of the native species of trees and contribute in lifting water table as well. Guru Nanak Sacred Forest are being planted in villages, in school, colleges, Gurdwaras(sikh place of worship), or in backyard of private properties. 99% of these trees survive and it requires very little water or maintenance.
356 forests till now will sequester carbon from the atmosphere. The carbon absorbed from the surrounding is stored into the soil and in the plant’s body – the stem, leaves branches, roots, flowers, fruits etc are made up of carbon and this stored carbon is called carbon stock. When these Forests mature, in a few years they will have stored over 5.3 million kilograms of carbon stock. In addition, 450000 kg of carbon will flow through these Forests. This means a huge amount of carbon is absorbed and converted into biomass and humus.
In a similar manner 1820 forests comprising of 1 million trees will store over 27 million kilograms of carbon as stock and will have a sequestration flow of over 230000 kilograms of carbon per year.
The cost for each 200 sq metres and 550 plantation is $1600. It involves stubble, husk, organic manure, bamboo sticks , JCB for two days or 22 man hours, transportation of plants and coordinator’s cost. Land has to be fenced. EcoSikh provides expertise and rare plants(rare species) that are not available in India. The whole operation is a three day process and it involves local population in planting each forest. Today 200,000 trees and a rich biodiversity bear testimony to the success that guarantees close to 100% survival with 30 times denser and 10 times faster growth. This works out to an effective Return on Investment of over 3000%. Each forest supports 30 households and it employs local young people.