Herald: An explosive way of saving the planet
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An explosive way of saving the planet

20 Jun 2018 06:14am IST

Report by
Karsten Miranda

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20 Jun 2018 06:14am IST

Report by
Karsten Miranda

Leave a comment

In an age where the concerns about depleting land resources and threats to the environment are rising every day, a group of likeminded Goans took up a very interesting challenge of ‘seed-bombing’ on World Day to Combat Desertification (WDCD). Café shares their story

Whenever there is a seminar or a conference related to the

measures that need to be taken to save the environment, one of the most common messages sent out is about how the youth can make a difference.That if the youth were to be convinced and take proactive action to work towards helping fight dangers that can harm our environment today, there is some hope of a cleaner environment in the future.

The United Nations (UN) is one such body that often calls out the public across the world to do more and dedicate various days for such theme based events that aim at engaging individuals and groups to take action.

Last Sunday, there was a call by the UN to fight against the rising occurrence of desertification (the process by which fertile land becomes desert, typically as a result of drought, deforestation or inappropriate agriculture).

June 17 marks the World Day to Combat Desertification (WDCD), observed every year by the UN to promote public awareness of international efforts to combat desertification. The day is a unique moment to remind everyone that land degradation neutrality (LDN) is achievable through problem solving, strong community involvement and co-operation at all levels

And a group of Goans did just that.

“We decided to launch this initiative on June 5 -World Environment Day and needed to be ready by June 17 (WDCD), says Alroy Fernandes. Alroy, an entrepreneur, RJ and an emcee, along with Michelle Gouveia, a radiologist and an entrepreneur, decided to take up this challenge when they stumbled upon videos of ‘seed-bombing’ that have become quite the rage on social media.

Having recently read about the exceedingly high amount of microplastic in the oceans, Alroy felt that something needed to be done. Discussing these alarming statistics with a group of friends, Michelle was inspired to start making a change so as to ensure a better future for her newborn son.

“I had shared a video about how seedballs can save our forests, which generated an interest amongst Facebook friends, one of them being Michelle. Having spoken several times about doing something to save the environment and never following through, we finally decided that this was an opportunity to finally make a difference. Inspired and enthusiastic, we began researching the topic and came across the United Nations page on WDCD,” adds Alroy.

For those who are unacquainted with this term, seed bombing, or in some cases aerial reforestation, is a technique of introducing vegetation to land by throwing or dropping seedballs. Its popularity is attributed to Japanese farmer Masanobu Fukuoka, who repurposed the technique for boosting food production in his farms. Since then, seed bombing has been employed in many countries including India.

Seed bombs/seed balls are a fun and effective way of re-seeding depleted landscapes where you reintroduce. Seed bombs are usually small balls of about 1-3 inch diameter – made of clay, potting soil or compost and seeds. Once they have been made, and dried for 24-48 hours, they are then either sown or more commonly “thrown” across land that needs new flora. The seed will spread and start to grow after being watered and broken down naturally.

“A lot of research went into how we would proceed, starting with finding a location to plant the seeds. After a long search, the International Centre Goa, Dona Paula, graciously allowed us to use an area within their property for the same. While we had ordered ordered a pack of seedballs from Amazon.in, we also wanted to procure local seedballs so as to not upset the delicate ecosystem in Goa. Visiting an agri-horti company at their Guirim nursery, we learnt a lot about the different types of seedballs available, including the process of creating them and how to ensure that the biodiversity flourished without destroying its fragile balance,“ says Michelle.

The duo, who wanted to create awareness about desertification, the need for reforestation, climate control and saving of water and energy, then went out to make several posts, videos and info graphics that were shared across various social media platforms about their plans for June 17, 2018.

Encouraged and supported by family and friends, they finally had everything in place for the event day and were raring to go and even the heavy showers on that day could not deter them.

On event day, a discussion was held amongst the participants, highlighting how each individual can contribute to saving the environment by making small changes in their personal lives and at a consumer level.

These suggestions targeted various areas where it could be implemented, such as at home, via transportation, recycling, dietary habits and several other detailed ideas about practical changes as part of a conscious shift to moving towardssustainable ways to live, produce and consume, whichcan go a long way in achieving these set out goals.

The star of the event was the seed planting activities and the entire experience of ‘getting their hands dirty’ and being part of the reforestation process’ was quite moving and has already receive a favourable response from all quarters. The event was a lot of fun and there was a lot of joy and happiness involved during the seed bombing activity.

While the hope is that this can inspire and spur others to take up similar initiatives and implement sustainable ways to reduce the impact on land resources,the group also took a pledge to achieve Land Degradation Neutrality and promote sustainable land management (SLM).

“Achieving Land Degradation Neutrality reduces poverty plus food loss, feeds the hungry, promotes peace and greener and healthier living space, and more. Land has true value. Sustainable land management helps recover degraded land and fights climate change, while conserving biodiversity and improving food security,” adds Michelle

Incidentally, these events were part of the global initiative and their event details were uploaded on the ‘WDCD Events Around The World Map’ and they used the the official 2018 WDCD postcards, stickers, social media cards, GIF, info graphics and videos.

In addition to using the hashtag #2018WDCD via the photos and videos shared online as part of the awareness campaign, they also recorded a video with the pledge - Let’s observe World Day to Combat Desertification. We support sustainable way of living, producing and consuming.”

“This will not stop with one activity and in the coming months, we will continue to remain committed to these goals and we will continue these practices amongst ourselves (the participants at the WDCD event), to spread awareness to each family and to meet up regularly to plan and execute new projects,” concludes Alroy.

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