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Caring for trees like they're family

September 25, 2021

Trees are good for both biodiversity and people, helping to guard against drought. Which is why Shyam Sunder Jyani encourages communities in Rajasthan, India to nurture them like loved ones.

Shyam Sunder Jyani sits with his family on an outdoor terrace
Shyam Sunder Jyani shares a rare moment with his own family between trips around Rajasthan to plant treesImage: Manish Mehta

India: trees as family members

In summer, temperatures in Rajasthan — one of India's driest regions — often climb above 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit). The climatic conditions are hard on people, and the little vegetation that survives here.

Shyam Sunder Jyani is a professor of sociology, but for the last 15 years he's dedicated himself to planting trees. To guard against desertification and provide both shade and fruit, Jyani has personally funded the planting of over 2.5 million saplings.

People care for fruit tree seedlings
Jyani is investing in seedlings now for the future of the land, climate and people Image: Manish Mehta

But putting young trees into the ground isn't enough. They need care to grow and thrive, which is why he goes village to village, teaching locals how to nurture trees that will make the landscape more hospitable for future generations.

In June, Familial Forestry, as Jyani's project is called, won the Land for Life Award from the United Nations Convention To Combat Desertification. Jyani is pleased to have his efforts recognized, but what he really wants is many more trees in Rajasthan. He even has plans to bring more fruit trees to the state's big cities. 

A film by Manish Mehta and Tabea Mergenthaler