A tree can tell tales worth a thousand words!
Trees are everywhere, but seldom draw our attention towards them. Being sedentary and non-charismatic in nature, trees have attracted very less attention from nature lovers in general and much less is known about their ecology. Lack of good botanists and plant taxonomist in the country is another hurdle towards making trees an exciting subject worthy to draw attention.
A general briefing of participants before the Tree Walk.
On 2 December 2018, Akshatra Pracy Fernandes, AERO’s in-house Botanist conducted a “Tree Walk” in the quite environs of Xeldem in Quepem, Goa attended by 25 tree lovers. During the walk 34 species of trees were identified and explained to participants with key features of identification. Extensive discussions took place about understanding their role in the ecosystem and the various interactions they have with other organisms. Discussions also happened about local names of trees and the traditional medicinal uses of trees in Goan culture.
Akshatra explaining the use of a hand lens for plant taxonomy
Learning to get a hold of the hand lens
Trying to take a closer look at leaf glands
Understanding the difference between drupe and berry
The “Tree Walk” also overlapped with the “Winter Tree Quest” a pan-India citizen science initiative spearheaded by the SeasonWatch team. The objective of the quest was to rapid-document and assess phenology of common Indian trees across the country. This information aggregation was facilitated by the SeasonWatch app which was used during the “Tree Walk” and its functionality explained extensively to the participants. Being able to use the SeasonWatch app and the concept of phenology also helped us to connect with participants at a level to encourage them to undertake regular observations rather than just casual observations.
Harshada, explaining SeasonWatch app to participants
Participants trying out the SeasonWatch app
Everyone was all smiles at the end of the walk with many participants having learnt some new skills in identifying common trees around them. Walks like these are AERO's efforts to raise awareness amongst people of Goa, especially youngsters to help them connect with nature with an aim to instil the need to live a sustainable life which is closer to nature.
The group all in smiles after an amazing morning of Tree Watching
AERO always maintains detailed biodiversity lists of sightings from its various initiatives and believes strongly in the power of citizen science. While, species that are listed on SeasonWatch app were listed directly, we also documented all other tree species in the area which are listed below.