With the monsoon at its peak, schools, banks and several environmental organisations have jumped into tree planting programs with gusto. From the slopes of Chobhar to the banks of the Bagmati, it's a good season for new trees.
Recently, Laxmi Bank started a One Account, One Tree campaign, which involves planting one tree for every Green Savings account opened at the bank. A thousand saplings have been planted in Kirtipur so far. The Nepal Army has carried out tree planting in Banepa, Hetauda, Lamjung and Pyuthan. Mega Bank has planted trees in Sundarijal, as part of a program to conserve the Bagmati. Clean Energy Development Bank (CEDB) organised a tree planting program in Jalvinayak of Chobhar, as part of its Clean Circle campaign. With CEDB, people can plant saplings in the memory of loved ones with a contribution of Rs 1,000. Staff from Standard Chartered planted 5,000 saplings in an area of about 3.5 hectres at Bhoot Dhunga in Bishankhunarayan under their Green Your Flight campaign. What's more, even the YCL has become environmentally conscious, planting 1,200 trees in community forests and school premises in Gorkha.
Many question the sustainability of such programs. It's easy to plant trees, but much harder to make sure they are taken care of in the long term, especially given rampant deforestation across the country. The CEDB's Clean Circle takes this into account, with money collected from planters deposited under a trust for upkeep of the trees for 10 years.
The government isn't all that far behind, and seems to have understood the power of incentives with its Pay Per Tree program. For every tree planted and maintained for at least three years on private or public land, individuals or communities will receive Rs 15. The saplings are provided free of cost by district forest offices.
If the enthusiasm with which these tree planting programs are initiated can be sustained, then there is no reason why Nepal cannot retain its green glory. Otherwise tree plantings will be no more than seasonal promotional campaigns, to wither away just as uncared for saplings will.