Green present

An increasing number of people are discovering that trees make for a great gift idea

A year ago, Delhi-based image professional Dilip Cherian received an unusual gift on his birthday. It was an e-mail informing him that a friend had had a sapling planted as his birthday gift. "I was delighted and called up the organisation, Grow Trees, to find out more," says Cherian. Today, he is an avid "tree gifter" himself. "It's better than sending flowers. Why kill flowers everyday?" he says. Across India, an increasing number of people are arriving at just this conclusion — trees make for a great gift idea.

"We have received a good response since we started in 2010, which suggests that people have taken to gifting trees. Several thousand trees were planted as Diwali gifts this year, though birthdays are the most popular reason to plant trees," says Karan Shah, co-founder of Grow Trees.

Organisations such as Grow Trees (grow-trees.com) and Plant A Tree (plantatreeindia.org) are the most popular destinations to select trees to gift. One can book the trees online and the recipient will be e-mailed a certificate on his or her special day. Booking a tree with Grow Trees involves a payment of Rs 50 per tree while Plant a Tree charges between Rs 300 and Rs 400 per tree, the cost covering maintenance of the plant and environment drives for students in areas such as Rishikesh, Uttarkashi and Tehri.

Delhi-based Sanjukta Sarkar, an environmental engineer with SENES Consultants India, sounds a note of caution even as she calls tree gifting an "innovative idea". "The ultimate idea is that we are gifting a tree back to mother earth. Planting a tree for environmental reasons is different from selecting foliage for our gardens. Emphasis should be given to local varieties since invasive species hamper the local biodiversity," she says. Soon, when she begins shopping for saplings to gift, Sarkar will find that both Grow Trees and Plant a Tree stress on local varieties.

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