ISHA Foundation Takes Action to Counteract Climate Change
By Sangeeta Shah



After all these millions of years of evolution, one would expect that human beings, the most evolved species of the planet, would also be the gentlest. Unfortunately, human contribution to ecology is largely a tale of endless, wanton destruction. Empowered by modern science and technology, and in relentless pursuit of comfort and conveniences, we have inflicted untold suffering upon ourselves and every other creature on the planet, bringing it to the brink of extinction.

While there is no one solution to the world’s ecological problems, it is a time-tested fact that the simplest and most effective solution is to just grow trees. For every tree grown not only contributes directly to the local environment, but also has a deep cascading effect of regeneration and propagation of the entire ecological processes. So one can actually accomplish something as lofty and Herculean as ‘saving the planet’, simply by growing trees — lots and lots of them.

Project GreenHands is a vision of Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, the founder of Isha Foundation, to increase the green cover of the state of Tamil Nadu, in South India, entirely though people’s initiatives. In the process they have established a culture of nurturing trees. Project GreenHands  is a simple but ingenious method to heal the planet, where even the poorest of the poor can contribute something that aggregates into a colossal protection for life on the planet.  An estimated 114 million saplings are to be planted in the next 10 years to increase the green cover by 10%, and involving millions of volunteers across the state.

As an immediate step, Isha Foundation organized a Mass Tree Planting Marathon on October 17, 2006, during which 852,587 saplings were planted in Tamil Nadu, which has been declared a World Record by Guinness World Records, the London-based record keepers. This Guinness Record was achieved through the collective efforts of 256,289 registered volunteers working on 6,284 sites spread over 29 districts, who joined people from all walks of life in planting saplings of more than 30 endemic species. They surpassed not only existing world records, but also their own target of 700,000 saplings.

This campaign will not only bring respite to the ecology of the state, but do so without imposing any fresh financial burden upon the state, whose forest cover is just 17.5%. The project is also a massive effort in community building, presenting a new paradigm of participatory governance and empowering lay individuals to shape the course of the world. Moreover, this project establishes a model that is capable of being replicated worldwide.

Through its environmental programs, Isha Foundation aims to make people aware that currently we are not living on this earth as a responsible generation. Project GreenHands (PGH) has been launched to inspire everyone to take personal responsibility for their environment — something that is so fundamental and essential to everybody’s well being. This is accomplished by employing a unique cost-effective methodology to grow nurseries and undertake mass tree planting programs.

It aims to involve large-scale volunteer participation right from the initial seed-collection stage to the final stage of on-going tree maintenance. The primary goal is to conduct multiple grassroot projects leading to mass tree planting events, and to create opportunities for people from all walks of life to be involved, according to their means and skills.

During 2007, Isha volunteers intend to plant 25 million saplings as a loving commemoration of 25 years of Isha Yoga, a powerfully transforming yogic practice developed by Sadhguru. To incorporate planting of trees as a conscious culture among the general public, several awareness programs have been planned including celebrating the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi on October 2 by planting 2.5 million saplings on the same day.

In order to complete the project Isha Foundation seeks support of like-minded individuals and organizations to partner with it in this unique initiative targeted towards the well-being of humanity.

Isha Foundation is a non-profit organization with a mission to work towards the betterment of the individual, society and the world. The inspiration behind Isha Foundation is Sadhguru, a realized yogi, master and mystic, prominent spiritual leader and visionary humanitarian. Set up as a non-political and non-religious organization, Isha Foundation does not promote any particular ideology, religion or race and works in tandem with such international bodies as the United Nations.

Isha Foundation operates through 150 city centers worldwide and is empowered by over 250,000 volunteers who respond out of their deep experience of Inner Engineering — the distilled essence of the science of yoga. In the United States, under the auspices of Isha Foundation, the Isha Institute of Inner Sciences opened last year in Tennessee.

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