Conservation of the oceans and marine life is a challenging task. The Tree Foundation, established in 2002, is a non-governmental marine conservation organization based in Chennai that works to spread literacy and awareness campaigns on issues related to marine life. Its founder Dr Supraja Dharini completed her doctorate in Indian Philosophy, but a dead olive ridley turtle on the shore inspired her for the ocean and marine life conservation. After that, the journey of Dr Dharini and the Tree Foundation started a small campaign to save the endangered Olive Ridley Turtle.
The Tree Foundation works in partnership with various stakeholders in the coastal landscape. The Foundation emphasizes the significance of every stakeholder for the conservation of marine life and connects them with the campaign to save the turtle according to their skills. Government agencies are important to the Olive Ridley turtle conservation initiative, but without the involvement of traditional fishermen, this campaign may not have been successful. The Tree Foundation aims to protect the marine life of India and educate people to conserve all life forms.
Tree Foundation Achievements
Often fishing activities last longer than intended and could be harmful to the marine landscape and its ecosystem. Abandoned and stray nets for fishing in the sea are called ‘ghost nets’. These stray nets are very harmful to marine life because many creatures get trapped in them and die. Endangered species are at greater risks due to the presence of ghost nets in our oceans.
Tree Foundation and HCL Foundation together have started a unique initiative to solve this problem. The initiative, which started in July, provides financial compensation to traditional fishermen for removing ghost nets from the sea and shores. The initiative provides compensation for removing ghost nets in the seas and oceans; the fishermen get rupees 5 for removing one kilogram of ghost net. Many fishermen have benefited from this and it has become an additional source of income for them. This unique expedition has increased the turtle population along with fishermen and has enabled 8,000 new Olive Ridley turtles to return to the sea every year.
The Tree Foundation has also conducted several awareness campaigns with the Government of Tamil Nadu and Kerala and the Indian Coast Guard and trained fishermen on marine conservation.