Head's Blog: Just one tree

Environment, Head's Blog

One of the first major political actions to oppose deforestation was Himachal Pradesh’s Chipko movement. In the 1970’s commercial logging caused enormous harm to soil and the resources needed by Indian villagers. From this situation arose the original ‘tree huggers’ - in a famous action in March 1974, 27 village women simply hugged the trees that the logging contractors were trying to fell until they went away. This took about three days. Later the state ruled in the villager’s favour and their methods spread – they soon adopted the name ‘Chipko’ from the Hindi word ‘to stick.’ These brave women continued to protest across the region until a ban was enacted on any commercial logging for 15 years, allowing the green cover to be restored. 

Chipko 2004
Above Participants of the first all-woman Chipko action at Reni village in 1974, reassembled thirty years later

A different kind of bravery was required by many of our teachers today as we celebrated our GDST wide ‘Just One Tree’ day. For the second year running our Eco Society, led by Issy and Ava, ran a ‘sponge the teacher’ event to raise money and awareness for this excellent charity. Just One Tree, founded by GDST (Northwood College) alumna Amanda Bronckhorst, is a Non-Profit that works towards removing CO2 from the atmosphere through global reforestation projects. From my cold and wet position at lunchtime I could see the value of this: for every three sponges thrown, a tree will be planted. 

Along with our ‘go green’ themed non-uniform community fundraising day we are hopeful that the GDST forest will grow significantly and in our own small way the spirit of the Chipko movement is revived.  

It is fantastic to see these student-led initiatives, when our girls show that they really can make a difference in the world. This was further brought home to me when one of our Speaker’s Week visitors, Cora Edwards, spoke so passionately about how her work combating modern day slavery in the Democratic Republic of Congo. She said that this all began through a similar set of actions at her girls’ school’s Human Rights club. I am sure members of our Eco Society will also have a big impact on the world one day, I am not sure how, but mighty oaks will certainly grow from acorns like today’s event.