In Hyderabad, the voluntary organization Thuvakkam is taking action to address air pollution, groundwater depletion, and declining green spaces. They are creating urban forests near water bodies to increase green cover and tackle environmental challenges. The fruits produced in these urban forests are donated to nearby government schools for the Mid-day meal program.
The founder of Thuvakkam, Krishnakumar Suresh, explained that India is supposed to have at least 33% forest cover, but currently only has around 23%. This has led to cities like Hyderabad becoming concrete jungles and ignoring the importance of green cover. To address this issue, Thuvakkam has started creating mini urban forests within the city.
Their project began in 2022 with a pilot initiative at Kudikutalake in Gachibowli, where they planted around 1200 trees focusing on native plant species to promote biodiversity. The main goal is to restore greenery and create habitats that support wildlife and improve the ecological balance.
Thuvakkam follows a well-structured approach to choose tree species that align with the region’s natural biodiversity. They involve the local community, including long-time residents and elderly individuals who remember the tree varieties that once existed before urbanization. This knowledge helps recreate a green habitat that reflects the region’s ecological heritage.
The organization believes in fostering a sense of ownership and stewardship within the community, so they actively involve school children in maintaining these urban forests. They organize regular drives on weekends to encourage young people to water, nurture, and care for the planted trees. This involvement promotes environmental awareness and a sense of pride and responsibility in protecting these green havens.
Thuvakkam has ambitious plans to expand their urban forest initiative across the city. Their next project will be near Hyderabad Central University, where they have secured 1.5 acres of land. The goal is to plant 10,000 to 15,000 trees in this new urban forest to enhance the city’s green cover and ecological balance.
The organization’s commitment to giving back to the community remains strong. The yield from the urban forest will be donated to nearby government schools, providing fresh and locally grown produce for the nourishment and well-being of the school children.