In October 2020 Sadhana Forest started its reforestation effort in Meghalaya, a state in northeast India, which is known for its hilly terrain and extremely high rainfall.
When we first came to Meghalaya we thought that our experience in water conservation and reforestation was not relevant. Then we started traveling the state and witnessed first-hand the massive deforestation, soil degradation, and the great challenges with the water supply. After a few more visits and a deeper understanding of the ground reality, we started working with the Government of Meghalaya on training local communities and demonstrating different water conservation and tree planting techniques.
Two old wooden buses were turned into a mobile reforestation unit. They were fitted with a small kitchen, bathroom, and solar panels on top to meet the electrical needs of the team. With these buses our team of long-term volunteers drove across the state for one and a half years, working in 25 different villages.
The focus of the team was on water conservation (swales proved to be very helpful on the sloped terrain), reforestation (using only native species), soil regeneration (using legumes that were chopped and dropped), and training. In every village, local people were trained in the aforementioned techniques. We planted only indigenous, food-bearing tree species, with the aim of improving food security in the area.
Our team lived very simply, staying in the villages, cooking for themselves, and sleeping in the buses and in tents. This made them very accessible to the local villagers, who welcomed them with open arms. The trainings were met with great enthusiasm, and in every village motivated volunteers stood up to continue the ecological restoration work after the departure of our team. The project was a great success and the Government has asked us to establish three permanent immersion centers in the state, one in each of the tribal regions: Garo, Khasi, and Jaintia hills. These centers will enable an immersive experience in nature and sustainable living and will provide training in water conservation and reforestation. A team from Sadhana Forest will live in each one of the centers and will interact with the local people and provide training.
If you are interested in making a long-term commitment and getting involved, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Author
Sadhana Forest is an international reforestation and water conservation volunteering organization. Sadhana Forest welcomes 1,500 volunteers per year that come and stay on sustainable vegan off-grid community campuses. It was founded in 2003 by Yorit and Aviram Rozin in India and later expanded to Haiti and Kenya, working on food security with local people living in drought-prone rural areas planting indigenous food-bearing trees. In 2020 a new project was started in Meghalaya, northeast India. Find out more about them on their website sadhanaforest.org.