Hello SeasonWatch supporter,
Anytime is a good time to look at trees but now is particularly interesting. This is when days are beginning to get shorter, daily temperatures are about to take a plunge, and moisture is going to get scarce in large parts of the country. This is when the world is slowly turning right outside our windows as many of our trees begin their annual renewal by preparing to change leaves and burst into flowers. This is when those who need soft leaves to munch and grow, or sweet nectar to sip and rejoice, will keenly track the changes in trees. This is a good time to watch trees!
We bring you our 'happenings' newsletter after long and hope that you will enjoy reading it. In this newsletter, read an interview with Manohar Pawar, Senior Project Manager with Foundation for Ecological Security, our local partner in Mandla, Madhya Pradesh. Also, find news and upd about our featured tree and answer a quiz.
A big thanks to all our participants. Happy tree-watching!
Bullet wood (Mimusops elengi), native to the country, is a medium-sized evergreen tree that is often planted in gardens for its large rounded crown that provides dense shade. Leaves are thick, glossy, dark green with obvious wavy margins. Cream-coloured, star-shaped flowers are fragrant, fill the surrounding air with their aroma, and are used for making garlands. Fruits are bright orange, shaped like drops, fleshy, and edible. Bark is grey and has elongated fissures.
Flowers appear between March and May, and get pollinated by a variety of insects. Fruiting starts in May, and the fruits are eaten and dispersed by birds and mammals.
Do you know this tree?
This is a tree of the lowland dry forests and open areas, usually grows along river banks or on sandstone rocks. The tree is straight-boled, and the branches arise horizontally, in whorls. Fruits are star-shaped with four to five follicles, velvety, and turn scarlet when ripe. Inside are dark grey seeds that are relished as raw or roasted. Interestingly, this tree stinks, especially when it is flowering, or when any part of the tree is cut or injured.
Do you know this stinky tree?
Guess this tree and tell us your answer by writing to us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Manohar Pawar, Foundation for Ecological Security, Mandla
Foundation for Ecological Society (FES), Mandla, our local partner in Madhya Pradesh, joined the SesonWatch community in October 2018. Manohar Pawar is working as a Senior Project Manager with FES Mandla and coordinating the SeasonWatch related activities in the region. One year down, we spoke to him about the efforts and experiences of his team with the project.
Tell us about the work your team is doing and the people involved.
We have a team of over 30 people from Around 25 different villages in Mandla who are monitoring trees. In each village, we are monitoring 3-4 species and 4-5 individuals of each species. All the people involved in the project are from the local community and are monitoring trees in their own villages. Some of them work with us as community resources persons (CRPs), others are volunteers or village leaders.
Which trees are being monitored and where are they located? Are they easy to access?
The trees belong to Non-Timber Forest Produce (NTFP) species, such as amla (Phyllanthus emblica), aam (Mangifera indica), baheda (Terminalia bellirica), harra (Terminalia chebula), mahua (Madhuca longifolia), palash (Butea monosperma), Saja (Terminalia tomentosa) etc, that are of interest to the local community. Mahua is a very important species in the region. Baheda fruits are used as well as sold for oil and dye. Harra fruits are used for medicinal purposes. Palash and Saja have cultural importance. Palash flowers are used for making a colour which is used in the festival of holi and for painting. The leaves of Saja are used for puja just before monsoons.
These trees are located inside the villages such as school campuses and in the village surrounds such as fields, and are mostly within a kilometre of the periphery of a village. In many of these villages we have selected trees along trails, so that the persons monitoring the trees can easily cover all the trees in a single walk and in less than an hours time.
Members of the FES-Mandla team observing an amla tree
Are other members of the village community also involved in the project?
Yes, the community knows which trees are being monitored and when. Usually a group of five to ten people from the village, including school children on holidays, joins the tree watcher in monitoring the trees.
What prompted FES-Mandla to join SeasonWatch?
FES is working in the Kanha-Pench corridor area with local communities to understand climate change in Kanha. We are working towards building adaptive capabilities and sustainable livelihoods around Kanha National Park. We are interested in exploring how climate change is affecting the environment and the people in this region, and understanding what possible measures can be taken for mitigating the impact of climate change, if any. Our CRPs, community leaders, para-workers, and volunteers were noticing that flowering and fruiting is changing in the trees that are of local importance. For instance, they were reporting that mahua trees are not flowering consistently every year, and when they do flower, there is reduced yield as often the whole tree doesn’t flowers. For palash, which flowers around holi, they were reporting that either the flowering happens early or not at all. Similarly, for other trees too, the flowering and fruiting is reportedly not happening in the seasons, as expected. So, we decided to monitor these trees by joining SeasonWatch and understand the impact of climate change on locally important tree species in this region.
What has been the learning so far? How will this help the community in the future?
As of now, only one year has passed. We have learnt how to observe trees and maintain a record of their flowering, fruiting. There is some basic understanding of changes in the pattern of these events. But to understand them well and scientifically, we need data over longer duration, say two to three years. Only then we will be able to detect a shift in the timing of these events, and say something about it.
Is there a plan to take this work forward?
Yes. We plan to continue this work and also scale up by including schools in the villages where we are already working. We are partnering with Eklavya on Shiksha Protsahan Kendra (SPK), an educational initiative. Eklavya has trained the first batch of village youngsters, secondary school or higher secondary school pass outs as well as students that are either currently in college or have finished their studies, as educators who will facilitate this initiative. These young educators, teach school children various subjects such as languages, science, mathematics, and environment education, through activity based learning. As part of the environment education curriculum, FES has trained these youngsters on different citizen science projects that include SeasonWatch, as well as bird watching and local medicinal plant diversity. This training was done last month in October. In the coming months, these young educators, will be observing trees in their village surrounds and working with schools, and teaching them how to observe trees.
Anything else you would like to add?
We feel that using SeasonWatch, an existing platform for recording observations of trees, has been very useful. It is an online database where data is stored safely, and can be accessed when we need in a usable form. We don’t have to keep hard copies of our data which can otherwise be tedious.
News and updates
New species on the list
We have added ten new species to our list! These include trees that are commonly found in drier habitats in large parts of the country.
Species that have been added are: Lannea coromandelica
, Boswellia serrata
, Ficus mollis
, Albizia odoratissima
, Prosopis cineraria
, Dichrostachys cineria
, Couropita guianensis
, Crataeva religiosa
, Anogeissus pendula
, Tecomella undulata
If you have these trees in your area, now you can add and observe them. Are there any trees that you would like to add to this list? Let us know. See the full list here.
Species of the Month Challenge
We are going to have our first, month-long challenge this December. You can participate anytime between the 1st and the 31st of December. The goal of this monthly challenge is to make as many observations as possible on the 6 'Species of the Month' for December.
Species of the Month are:
(Flame of the Forest)
(Red silk cotton)
Trees can be observed in two ways:
observations on 20 or more different trees of one or more of the Species of the Month. (see tutorials here) AND/OR
observations in 4 consecutive weeks of December on a registered tree of one or more of the Species of the Month (see tutorial here)
Everyone meeting either of these criteria gets a chance to be part of a lucky draw for the month of December! Two all-India winners (one school and one individual) of the lucky-draw get a special prize from SeasonWatch!
(February 2019 onwards)
Total trees observed: 48,328
Total observations: 89,268
Total observation in SW database: 3,43,118
Top tree species observed:
Rain Tree (Samanea saman
), Mango (Mangifera indica
), Arjun (Terminalia arjuna
), Teak (Tectona grandis
), Purple bauhinia (Bauhinia purpurea
A hearty welcome to new SeasonWatchers!
(15 September 2019 onwards)
Individuals: Mehak Matharu, Akhilesh Sharma, Pravar Mourya, Kiran Sojan, Surendhar Boobalan, Rathna Bai, Abhishek Meena, Srijita P, Krithi Krishna, Sivakumar, Shivam, Nirupa Sundaravandanam, Vinay, Aastha Ashok, Bhaskar Bora, Mohan, Mehak Matharu
Schools: Kendriya Vidyalaya Kanjikode, Holy Queens UPS Rajakumary, GHSS Thevarvottam, Cherupushpa U P SCHOOL, SVAUPS Kulikkiliyad, GGVHSS Cherukunnu, Bharathamatha HSS, Met English Medium HS, GUPS Poozhikkad, Abdurahman Smarakam UPS, HCCGUPS Cheralayam, Bajar College of Science Wardha, GGVHSS Feroke, Bhavans Vidya Mandir Elamakkara, Gurukulam Public School Venginessery, Holy Angels HSS Ollur, GVHSS Ayyanthole, Mangattidam UPS, JMUPS Cherupzha, St Joseph's HSS Cherupuzha, GHS Thevarvottam, Perfect English School Edakkad, Amrita Vidyalayam Kodungullur, Cherupushpa UPS, Eklavya Bichiya (Mandla), SVAUPS Kulikkiliyad, GGVHSS Cherukunnu