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It is foolish to believe that businesses can be sustainable in a world where natural resources are being continuously depleted and degraded. Gaylord Nelson, a former US Senator and the founder of Earth Day, aptly said, "The economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment. All economic activity is dependent upon that environment and its underlying resource base of forests, water, air, soil and minerals.” 

At Mahindra Holidays & Resorts India Ltd. (MHRIL), our respect for planetary boundaries, biodiversity and ecosystems, is reflected in our business targets. We have committed to doubling energy productivity, using 100% renewable energy, using a fully electric fleet of vehicles, achieving science-based targets, and becoming carbon neutral by 2040.

Under this multi-pronged approach, one particular initiative is Mahindra Hariyali. A tree-planting initiative that was born in 2007, the Mahindra Hariyali Initiative (MHI) has not only improved green cover and protected biodiversity; it is also providing livelihoods to local communities in different parts of the country.

This year, under the Mahindra Hariyali initiative, Club Mahindra planted 46,960 trees, thus helping improve green cover, protecting biodiversity and restoring ecosystems across India. This World Environment Day 2021, Club Mahindra shares with you some of MHI's efforts that are protecting many parts of India from land degradation and deforestation while also benefiting local residents.  

 

Tree Plantations and Empowerment of Rural Communities in Karnataka

Our partner NGO, the Sankalpataru Foundation, identified certain regions of Karnataka that were assailed by numerous agricultural and water issues. Through the Rural Livelihood Program which is designed to improve villager’s livelihood and provide a sustainable income for their families, we planted 20,000 fruit-bearing trees to bring economic sustainability that empowered the local community.

By taking up plantations in those regions, we have taken a step towards the betterment of the farmer community and the revival of farm practices. The programme is not just aimed at planting trees, but at creating a wide socio-environmental impact that includes women's empowerment, poverty alleviation, biodiversity promotion, and greening of degraded land.

Grow-Trees Project  in Sikkim: Promoting Ecotourism and Creating Employment Opportunity for Local Communities

Club Mahindra also initiated the Grow-Tree Project in Sikkim. Through this project, we have ensured environmental sustainability through the enhancement and improvement in tree cover. The project involves the plantation of 6,000 local trees in the temperate habitat of Zuluk area at the fringes of Pangolakha Wildlife Sanctuary, East Sikkim. The project aims at promoting sustainable ecotourism by improving the ecological health of the area.

In the future, the project is likely to employ members from the local communities in every step of the plantation process, as they are well-versed with their forests and land. The 6,000 trees planted in this region will help to conserve the local flora and fauna; increase the groundwater table, improve wildlife habitats (including the endangered and endemic species and the state animal, Red Panda); and create approximately 500 workdays for local communities. In addition, the mature trees are expected to offset approximately 40,000 kg of atmospheric carbon every year.

Grow-Trees Project in Tamil Nadu: Addressing Socio-Environmental Challenges and Empowering the 'Irular' Tribal Community

The Mahindra Hariyali Initiative has also undertaken plantation activities as a part of the Grow-Trees Project in Viluppuram, Tamil Nadu. The aim of this project was to involve the local Irular tribal community in on-ground activities while converting wasted and degraded land into forests. Under the project, the plantation of 2,000 local mixed saplings on the Kazhuveli Bioregion of Villupuram District was done. Sustainable resource management and addressing land degradation are the main objectives of this planting programme.

The plantation of trees in this region will not only help to address the prevalent socio-environmental challenges, but will also enhance the living conditions of the locals who are dependent on forests for food and livelihood. The project will play a key role in supporting the Irulars' vulnerable economy by generating approximately 150 days of employment. It will also improve the water table, check top-soil erosion, and enhance ecosystem services.

The Mahindra Hariyali Initiative is one step in a much larger goal to make MHRIL a carbon-neutral business by 2040. But then, large goals are only realised through the completion of hundreds of smaller ones. No effort is too small or insignificant. Hence, on this World Environment Day, let us all pledge to do whatever we can do to adopt practices like water-saving, recycling, reusing  and conserving resources. Together, we can restore our natural ecosystems to their former glory, and that will benefit us all in the long run. 

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