By OUR STAFF REPORTER
DEHRADUN, 17 Jul: The fact that the climate of the Doon Valley is being disastrously affected by systematic environmental destruction, partly from unbridled construction activity as well as from human greed and ignorance, is indisputable. The past few years have seen longer summers, longer dry periods, falling rainfall and extreme weather conditions, making Dehradun and its surrounding areas far from the idyllic escape they once were. Every year, since its inception in 1985, the Friends of the Doon Society has, through its Trees for Doon project, donated, planted, monitored and looked after about 2000 free saplings to educational and other institutions, as well as protected areas, in the monsoon. This year, thanks to generous funding from the USA-based Asia Initiative, FODS has upscaled this project to green the Doon valley with at least 12,000 saplings. These trees are local, indigenous and sustainable varieties which have been selected in keeping with the biodiversity and ecological sensitivity of the Doon Valley. The Green Doon Project is also aimed at educating young minds about the importance of environmental conservation and all the attendant benefits of planting trees – from water conservation to clean air to sustaining and propagating animal and plant species. This makes the tree- planting exercise both meaningful and forward- looking. School children are an integral part of the process from the beginning so that they understand everything from pit- digging to planting to after-care and survival. In-house experts like Sujit Mukherjee, former Director of the Wildlife Institute of India, are among those who explain the importance of environmental conservation to school children. FODS firmly believes that tokenism is the wrong way of saving the environment. Areas for planting are therefore carefully chosen so that these saplings will be looked after to ensure a good survival rate. This effort, which started with the digging of the pits in April, will continue into the monsoon. So far, FODS has donated and supervised the planting of saplings at institutions and residential areas like Pestleweed College, Ecole Globale, Kendriya Vidyalaya, FRI, Uttaranchal Dental College and Defence Colony, among others.