You must have heard of various kinds of organ transplants, but we do a different kind within the Aravali Biodiversity Park. It was a slightly overcast, balmy march morning when a team from CRISIL came to transplant some saplings from smaller to larger polybags in order to allow space for them to grow. A motley group of 25 volunteers, including one of their associate directors, visited the Aravalli biodiversity Park on the 14th of March to partake in some transplanting activity at the Nursery.
They were divided into two groups. The teams were assigned delicate Goya Khair and Bistendu saplings to transplant. After being briefed by Madhu how to go about with the process, the first team was stationed at our Aranya nursery, left to sit around a humongous pile of soil to fill in the larger bags before shifting the saplings. The second group being the larger was taken out in the open and divided into three teams of eight, three and seven volunteers respectively. Latika, being the natural orator she is, immediately got to the task of encouraging them to compete and see which team would finish transplanting the most number of saplings. Vasundhara and I joined her in organizing the process.
What followed was a period of heady activity as the volunteers merrily sat around mounds of soil like dwarves at a fantasy feast, chatting noisily. Marshalling them was Anil, our nursery head supervisor, explaining to them the nitty gritties of the transplanting process.
“Tear the smaller bag at the vertical stitch line running along its length. Take out the sapling slowly, with the soil clump around it intact. Start filling soil in the larger bag slowly. Make sure the soil is level, and leave more than an inch gap from the rim. Transplanting is done once a sapling reaches a height of around 2 feet. Make sure to keep the cylindrical clump of soil sticking to the roots intact. If it disintegrates, there will be no use and the sapling is at risk of not developing properly. The sapling must be plumb in the centre of the larger bag, and the soil must be one inch below the rim.”
The first group went through the mound of soil assigned to them like lightning, using it all up in a mere half hour. They were not done though, promptly trooping out and joining the rest for transplanting some more saplings. Some of them fumbled around with their saplings, breaking the clumps around the roots in the process, to which Anil reacted like as if the saplings were his own children! Never before had I seen somebody getting chastised for breaking a clod of earth around a small little plant!
By the time it was 12 pm, the four teams had transplanted 198 Bistendu and 222 Goya Khair saplings, for a total of 320! They then joined the mallis to see how these saplings were placed and watered after the process. With smiles on their faces and bottles of water passed all around, they assembled outside the Aranya nursery entry gate. I debriefed them and asked them about their experience.
A girl clicking pictures of the whole event was especially forthcoming, and had a broad smile on her face when told about the significance of the Park and the planting of native species. Thus ended another day of caring for our dear little saplings, with a little help from corporate employees who thoughtfully gave it their all.
As drops together make an ocean, so do saplings make a forest. If each one us plant a tree today, our forests would all be brought back in no time.