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Students planting the saplings on campus

Students planting the saplings on campus

CHENNAI: The students of Stella Maris College yesterday took the initiative to plant nearly 50 saplings on the campus to replace the ones lost in the fury of cyclone Vardah.

Joining hands with the Burhani Foundation (India), which is commemorating its founder and spiritual head Dr Syedna Mohamed Burhanuddin’s 106th birthday, the students and faculty took the first steps towards planting native species that would help replenish the biodiversity in the verdant campus.

“This was an important initiative for us, as ours was a very thickly wooded campus and we lost a lot of our trees during the cyclone,” said Sister Jasintha Quadras, principal, Stella Maris College.

“We were looking for possible associations with organisations who were looking to plant native trees when we got in touch with the Burhani Foundation, who had a similar campaign in mind.”

The movement was spearheaded by the students and faculty of the college who undertook an extensive survey of the damage to the forest cover after Cyclone Vardah. Nearly 100 trees were damaged out of the 461 in and around the campus.

They also had expert assistance through Narasimhan, head of department, botany, at Madras Christian College who took students on a nature walk to assess the damage to flora and fauna.

The plan to replant saplings was adequately guided by faculty from his. “We have a list of nearly 25 trees that are native to Chennai.

However, earlier we did not have a very systematic way of planting trees since it was mostly done by NGOs,” said Priscilla Jebakumari, faculty, department of botany. “So now, the faculty has instructed students to plant only indigenous trees which can grow especially in our soil.”

The saplings that were planted yesterday belonged to 11 different varieties of trees, “For now, we’ve chosen areas where there have been huge losses in tree cover. It will be an ongoing process where we will plant more trees over the course of time,” said Sr Jasintha.

The zoology department also played a hand in the eco-initiative, studying and releasing a book on the butterfly species on the campus, where they found that they had more than 15 varieties.