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EasyForest aims to combat climate change caused by deforestation. It builds a sustainable model of growth by combining decomposable waste and a Japanese method called the Miyawaki Method. This method focuses on the native species of a region, fertilizing soil using natural materials, reproducing the complexity of the natural environment under which forests usually grow and being able to eliminate human intervention in maintenance as early as three years into the growth of the forest. The method is named after Akira Miyawaki, a renowned Japanese botanist.
The decomposable waste now being collected acts as the perfect support system or the backbone to EasyForest-driven initiatives throughout the state. Over the course of the past six months, there have been massive wildfires in Australia, the Amazon basin, California and more recently, Turkey. Studies show that this trend may continue, and at this rate it could spell doom for mankind.
What makes EasyForest's innovation all the more impressive is the simplicity of the solution. By planting trees two to four meters apart, they are able to grow a self sustaining forest that is able to drastically reduce air and noise pollution, attract animals that are indigenous to the area, and eventually over a period of time, create carbon sinks.
The idea behind EasyForest was first brought into the limelight at an international energy conference at a college in the state of Tamil Nadu, India. Mr. Swaminathan Appachi, Head of the Entrepreneurship Cell at the college, guided and mentored Ramachandran S and Karvedhan G, through a project to develop micro forests from solid waste which would soon shape up to become EasyForest.
The project resonated with the founders. Ramachandran was exposed to an interesting scenario unfolding at a farming village near Pollachi, Tamil Nadu. The small town was frequented by a unique visitor: India’s national bird, the peacock. There also existed wild dogs that would act as predators. When the farmers became aware of the rising wild dog population, they immediately started a massive culling process that significantly reduced the wild dog population. With fewer predators to keep them in check, the peacock population increased drastically. With an increase in the population of the peacock, man-animal conflict began. The peacocks would often stray into farmlands and destroy crops, but as the flightless bird is considered the national bird of India, the farmers could do nothing about it.
“This is a perfect example of a man-created problem that disrupted an ecosystem,” Ramachandran noted. This story of human intervention with unintended consequences served as the inspiration for EasyForest. The company has since worked with educational institutions, rural village administrations, companies and businesses in setting up and managing projects in and around the state of Tamil Nadu. A perfect example of this has been how the company is in the process of rebuilding forests around one of Tamil Nadu’s most prolific bird sanctuaries, Vedanthangal, for the sake of the migratory birds and to help rebuild the native ecosystem
To understand the importance of the solution, it is imperative to understand the problem it addresses. One of the biggest problems plaguing the Indian subcontinent is the alarming rate at which dense forests are being converted into non-forests, thereby increasing wide scale destruction to ecosystems and posing issues such as man-animal conflict.
Secondly, the declining population of migratory and native birds due to loss of forest habitat and climate change, assessed by over 15,000 birdwatchers and experts, is a cause for concern as this disrupts the ecological balance of the ecosystem.
Finally, one of the biggest issues is India’s rally into becoming the world’s third largest emitter of greenhouse gases, accounting for a massive 2.46 billion metric tonnes of carbon, or 6.8% of the world’s total emissions.
The impact of the innovation is to slow down or reverse some of these harmful trends. Central to EasyForest’s afforestation effort involves identifying which trees are native to the locations of their projects. The loss of of native varieties may create a host of problems like an imbalance in salinity and increased soil erosion. etc. These localized challenges become especially significant during more catastrophic disasters such as torrential rains associated with climate change. While these disasters themselves are not addressed by EasyForest, the firm helps ensure the ecological balance is not disturbed thereby minimizing the impact of these disasters to the greatest extent possible.
Planting enough trees to ensure that future generations don’t face issues like global warming is most certainly one of massive proportions and is the responsibility of everyone. Therein lies EasyForest’s mission: to create a model wherever they go. If one small village can do it, so can the others, if one district can do it, so can all the others. The more the number of people trying to emulate this, the better equipped humanity will be to fend off an impending climate crisis. After all, humanity is in this together.
India is unique in that it requires corporate social responsibility by large firms. In particular, its Companies Act 2013 applies to any company that is incorporated in India, whether it is domestic or a subsidiary of a foreign company, and which has (1) net worth of Rs. (Indian Rupees) 5 billion or more (US$83 million), (2) turnover of Rs. 10 billion or more (US$160 million), or (3) net profit of Rs. 50 million or more (US$830,000) during any of the previous three financial years. Those firms are required to allocate 2% of the companies' 3-year average net profits to CSR.
However, as per the founder, not many of these funds are invested in projects which address environmental sustainability and EasyForest aims to facilitate companies venturing into this area.
The "CSR Mandate" is challenging for many firms because they lack the expertise to implement in-house sustainability strategies. EasyForest fills that gap by serving as a strategic partner to such firms. Additionally, their expertise in urban and rural forestry is a key differentiator for the firm. One of EasyForest's first clients was a manufacturer that needed to meet compliance requirements for the number of trees on the facility's property. EasyForest was contracted to create a model forest for them.
EasyForest provides an opportunity for companies to allocate their CSR spend requirements toward meaningful projects in the pillar of environmental sustainability. EasyForest primarily works with organizations (primarily educational institutions and governmental entities) that want to develop model micro forests and its business model sets the company apart from others as it has built a strong reputation around environmental sustainability.
Over the past five years, India has been hit with three of the worst floods in the country's history. Landslides due to rain have displaced over 1.8 million people. Indeed, at least 12% of India's lands are prone to landslides, should it rain in excess of 150 mm for four days: the root cause of all of this is deforestation. Trees are being cut at alarming rates and the ecological balance has been disrupted. EasyForest addresses these significant issues.
Additionally, waste management is increasingly becoming a pressing concern for everyone around the world. However, the state of Tamil Nadu, India has had an excellent waste management system which relies on composting to create natural manure. A statewide network ensures that all waste is collected from all households and segregated on the basis of food waste and other waste, However, this system is not without its own challenges. Residents are often not very keen on segregating their wastes as it requires some effort. As a result, city workers are forced to segregate tons of waste. This is necessary as certain items of waste, like e-waste may even contaminate the other types of waste, rendering the food waste unsuitable for composting. Additionally the accumulation of such waste can lead to many health hazards in the long run.
EasyForest seeks to solve this problem by putting the accumulating waste to good use as manure for the micro forests that they create. By doing this, the founders of EasyForest also hope to educate the people regarding the importance of waste segregation and the positive impact that effective waste management can have.
Reforesting urban areas has the potential to provide significant health benefits. Rising pollution levels have created air hazard zones in many cities in India. With increased pollution, the incidence of emphysema, a lung disorder, has increased too. A social benefit of the business, therefore, is improved health brought about through rehabilitated forestland. The forests that EasyForest has planted will absorb around 90 tons of CO2 and will release about 500 tons of O2 every year post maturity.
As India continues to develop, more and more of its citizens will enjoy travel across the country to south Indian tourist destinations like Ooty and Mysore, both of which are renowned for their natural beauty. Isn't it ironic, however, that people are skeptical about the opportunity to have a similar forested environment right in their backyard? EasyForest aims to bridge this gap and let society once again reconnect with nature and forests. For only when humans truly reconnect with nature will they be able to take ownership for the damage that they have done to it and wholeheartedly participate in efforts to restore our planet.
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Ramachandran S, Co-Founder
EasyForest is a company that uses an age-old Japanese method to tackle one of the largest issues that currently plagues the earth: global warming caused by deforestation. The company builds self-sustaining forests by replanting native tree species in a geography that was earlier cut down to farm cash crops. By doing so, ecosystems that are familiar to the local geography are regrown.