Trees help cool the planet by taking in harmful greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen back into the atmosphere. Trees help clean the air we breathe and provide habitat to over 80% of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity. They provide shelter to hundreds of insects, fungi, bacteria, and mammals.
Although it is impossible to count all the trees in the world, satellite imaging has given a rough estimate. A study in the Journal of Nature estimates that there are more than three trillion trees in the world. According to a science journal, while it is indeed heartening to know this, the flip side is that about 42 million trees are cut down each day. With 642 billion trees, Russia has the highest number of trees in the world. The top 10 countries with the highest number of trees (in descending order) are Russia, Canada, Brazil, the USA, China, Australia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Argentina, Indonesia, and India. According to the World Bank’s assertion, Qatar, Greenland, San Marino, and Oman are four countries without any forest land.
India, being one of the biggest countries globally, has a lot of trees, including medicinal trees. The total forest and tree cover in India is 807.27 sq. km (80.73 million hectares), which is 24.56% of the country’s total geographical area.
There is a saying, “A seed planted today grows its branches tomorrow.” World Wide Fund for Nature –India (WWF India) plants trees on your behalf if a donation is given. You can also dedicate trees to your near and dear ones on their birthdays, anniversaries, and other special occasions. Many NGOs with online sites help you plant a tree with just a click on the mouse by paying an amount that varies depending upon the tree you select. I am not aware of the genuineness or otherwise of these facilities.
As Assistant Director of Mysore Palace, way back in 1986, I was instrumental in planting more than 20 saplings in the vehicle parking area of the Palace and nurturing them. My visits to Mysore give me immense satisfaction to see that they have now grown and become big trees. Likewise, in my stint as Additional Director of Horticulture, Lalbagh, a parking area was earmarked inside the Lalbagh East gate. We made efforts to procure perennial plants from Malnad and planted them there. Though the parking lot project was abandoned due to protests by some Associations, the trees have now grown with lush leaves, adding to the greenery of Lalbagh.
Tree Planting in Waqf Lands
It is common knowledge that vast areas of Waqf lands reserved for Khabrastans, Dargahs, Eidgahs, Ashoorkhanas etc., remain barren. We started a movement to plant and nurture trees in such barren Waqf lands. This movement got a fillip when the Karnataka State Board of Auqaf included the subject of “progress achieved in tree planting” in its monthly progress reports taken from all the District Waqf Committees of the State. The subject was even discussed in the meetings with the officers of the District Waqf Committees. The Azeezia Trust, Tumkur, headed by Mr. Mohammed Haseebulla, has planted trees in many Waqf lands in the Tumkur district. Yet, a lot more is required to be done in this direction, not only in Karnataka but also in all the other States in our country.
The Bismillah Idgah and Khabrastan Trust, which has established a Muslim burial ground on 8 acres of land near Bannerghatta National Park, Bangalore, has planted more than 200 fruit and other trees like coconut, mango, jackfruit, tamarind, teak, sapota, avocado, papaya, guava, fig, lemon, etc. These trees have now started yielding fruits that help the institution meet a part of its maintenance expenditure, apart from making the institution environmentally friendly. The credit for this goes to Mr. Sadeer Ahmed Junaidi, a Trustee who has a passion for horticultural activities.
Tipu Sultan And Tree Planting
Tipu Sultan’s liking for horticulture was so immense that he linked this with the dispensation of justice. For petty offenses, convicts had to plant fast-growing plants, and for major offenses, they had to plant trees like jamun (black plum), mango, and coconut. In 1788, Tipu Sultan issued a circular to all amildars, and in 1792 he passed a regulation stating that the fines of the farmers shall be commuted if the offender plants two trees, waters them, and nurtures them till they reach a certain prescribed height. Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan established the famous Lalbagh, an island of greenery in the bustling city of Bangalore. Tipu Sultan gave a big impetus to the development of horticulture in his territories. Tipu Sultan sent several diplomatic and trade missions to countries like Muscat, Oman, Jordan, Iraq, Iran, and Penang, export and import of horticultural produce were a major component.
The Final Word Par Excellence
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) has said, “If a Muslim plants a tree or sows seeds, and then a bird, or a person or an animal eats from it, it is regarded as a charitable gift (sadaqah) for him” (Imam Bukhari). In order to protect land, forests, and wildlife, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) created inviolable zones, known as Haram and Hima, in which resources were to be left untouched. He established a Hima to the south of Madinah and forbade hunting within a four-mile radius and destroying trees or plants within a twelve-mile radius. Thus, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) introduced the green belt concept 1443 years back.
Anas ibn Malik reported: the Messenger of Allah, peace, and blessings be upon him, said, “Even if the Resurrection were established upon one of you while he has in his hand a sapling, let him plant it” (Musnad Ahmad 12902). It means finish planting trees, even if the Last Day is established. This shows the importance of tree planting by the Prophet (pbuh). Islam teaches its followers to take care of the earth. Muslims believe that humans should act as guardians or Khalifah of the planet and that they will be held accountable by God for their actions. All Muslims must respect, nurture and care for the environment.