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Sunday, September 11, 2016

A Coimbatore bus conductor has planted 3 lakh trees using his own modest income

He says that he has learnt most about trees from the tribal population living there.

His day job as a bus conductor from Coimbatore isn’t all that out of the normal. But M Yoganathan, 49-years-old has an achievement that makes him stand out from the crowd— in the last 29 years, he has planted more than three lakh trees in 32 districts in Tamil Nadu.
Yoganathan's fight for the trees began when he was living in Nilgiris in 1987 and he began campaigning against trees being cut for firewood. He says that he has learnt most about trees from the tribal population living there.
As for how he finds the time for his tree-planting while holding down a full-time job as a conductor for the past 15 years, he says, "On my weekly off, Monday, I go plant trees in all educational institutions like schools, colleges and universities."
And his efforts don’t stop at merely planting trees. He also conducts awareness-building sessions, educating students about different types of plants, grass and trees and how to care for them. "In schools, we make every child name the plant or tree with their name, and ask them to bring two water bottles, one for the tree and the other one for themselves."
Describing the contrast between his two jobs, he says, "Tree plantation I do because I like doing it, the other one is done by hard work."
Yoganathan says that the one person who inspired him most in his journey was environmentalist Jeyachandran. “He was the one who kept encouraging me to plant more trees."
Over the years, Yoganathan has received many awards and accolades for his work, including an “Eco Warrior Award” and a State Environment Department Award in 2008, a CNN-IBN Real Heroes Award in 2011 and a Periyar Award in 2015. But Yoganathan doesn’t bother to collect his awards anymore because, “I do not even have a house of my own and the government does not support me in any way."
Talking about the problems he faces, he says, "I keep shifting houses. I get a rented house and then plant trees there. The house owner will ask me to leave and then again I have to shift my house."
It isn’t only a problem of finding a house to live in.  He says a little under half his salary also gets spent each month on all his tree planting activities.
And various people have taken exception to his work, even filing cases against him. "The forest department and other people file cases against me for planting trees by the side of some roads, or for stopping trees from being cut," he says.
And he has had to often take leave from his regular job to keep his environmental work going.
He feels that it is only because of the support from his wife and two children he is able to continue with all his work.
He says he does not regret any of this, but wants help from the government. He has visited about 3700 schools and educated students about trees, but needs more support to take his efforts forward. "I want the students to go 'evergreen' (not use anything which harms the trees) but that can only happen with the financial support from the government," he says.
"They should at least give me a small piece of land and a house to live so that I can also start a nursery also," he says.

Article copied from here

Friday, April 8, 2016

The man who stopped the desert

Yacouba Sawadogo is an innovative African farmer who has been travelling across the deserts for the last 30 years reviving ancient re-forestation and soil conservation techniques. His only tools are a shovel and a firm belief that everything can be changed for the better. His amazing results speak for themselves.

Back in the 1980s, a terrible drought afflicted Africa’s Sahel region, destroying all that was green and verdant, reducing rainfall by 80% and turning huge chunks of land into desert. To survive, most of the local people had to leave. But Yacouba stayed.

Unable to read or write, and without using any modern gadgets or techniques, he simply continued using an ancient African farming practice called ’zai.’ He plants seeds in small holes filled with compost. The holes then fill up with water during the rainy season, so they are able to retain moisture and nutrients during the dry periods.

Yacouba’s experiments were successful: the soil quality has increased. Along with millet and sorghum, he also managed to start growing new trees, which in turn helped replenish groundwater levels: the soil, shade and organic materials under the trees help hold moisture so it can be absorbed by the soil.

Yacouba’s story became known around the world, and in 2010 he starred in a documentary called ’The Man Who Stopped the Desert.’ All the proceedings were put into the restoration of local forests and a training program for farmers who want to learn Yacouba’s technique. ’Zai’ is now being taught and enthusiastically used throughout the region, and the local farmers have learned to maintain the security of their food supply and are adapting to climate change.

Article copied from here

Thursday, July 9, 2015

A slice of Western Ghats in an urban cluster? It's possible in Kerala!

A slice of Western Ghats tucked in the corner of an urban cluster - this green haven is the work of V Mohammed Koya, 60, who has carved out a mini Ghats, with a thick canopy of more than 300 species of trees and 1,000-odd medicinal plants, in Arambara, about 22 km from Kozhikode.

Governments and ecologists may be splitting hairs over expert committees (see box) and their findings to save the fragile ecology of the Western Ghats but this businessman realised the need to protect the rain-forest a long time ago.
Koya's forest is not just a cover of green; he nurtures trees with connections to our cultural past. Each tree has a story to tell. Many, such as the Ashoka Vanam, have been featured in epics like the Ramayana (Sita is said to have taken refuge under it, in Ravana's garden), and other world literature. The chestnut tree mentioned in Gabriel Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude, the Subabul mentioned in Khalil Gibran's work and the 'Neermathalam' mentioned in Kamala Das's poetry, are here.
Initially, Koya was unwilling to make his forest public but when he saw how hills were being stripped and rivers drying up, he wanted people to value greenery and appreciate nature's bounty. Such is his attachment to his forest that when a sandalwood tree was stolen two months ago, he was deeply shocked. "All my trees are like my children," he says.
Though Koya is a school dropout, he has authored seven books. He wants to drive home the point that the earth belongs to all and like human beings, birds, plants and animals have the right to claim it as their home.
How did he manage to convert a wasteland into a thick forest? His love for nature made him plant saplings in the 30 cents (100 cents is an acre) of land that he inherited from his parents. Begun in 1999 with a dozen saplings, the forest now covers 3.5 acres and contains a variety of trees that have bee added over the years. Koya plans to increase its size. This is a forest grown naturally - without insecticides or fertilizers - as Koya believes in the ability of nature to replenish itself without human intervention. That's why he does not allow even fallen leaves or twigs from the forest to be removed.
"Without trees, mankind has no future. Once a tree is cut, it is not the tree alone that dies. At least 10 species of birds and insects perish with it. Our green cover is shrinking alarmingly. My endeavour is a small effort to open others' eyes," he says.
Koya, who runs a small jewellery shop in Kunnamangalam on the outskirts of historic Kozhikode (the Portughese explorer Vaco-da-Gama landed here in 1498), has kept no count of the amount of money he has spent on his botanical garden. A nature lover since childhood, he has travelled extensively to procure saplings and seeds. He tells his friends and relatives to gift him trees on special occasions.
In his botanical garden, all are welcome. There is no fee or fixed timing for a visit, and no menacing guards to police a visitor. "Come with an empty hand and return with a rich experience," says a board in a corner.
Initially, his forest had no name. But when forest officials informed him that private individuals could not grow certain trees, he named it the VMK Botanical Garden. His wife shares his interest but his five sons have no interest in his endeavour. "It should come naturally. You can't force these things," he says with a broad grin.
Today, this forest is a haven for nature-lovers - from students wanting to explore the woods, to agricultural scientists paying a visit to clear a doubt or two by studying the trees at close range. One can literally go into the garden without a guide. Each tree carries it name, botanical name and salient features.
After former Forest Minister Binoy Viswom, who had heard about the endeavour, visited the forest, a small motorable road was sanctioned to help visitors reach the garden. That has been the sole  government help that Koya has received so far.
His neighbours swear that the perennially drought-affected area, has not experienced water shortage in the recent past. Bird-lovers and entomologists also claim the return of many vanished breeds. This is also the home of the fox, rabbit, porcupine, mongoose and lizard.
"He's a man committed to nature. People like him give us much hope," says professor Sobhindran, a well-known conservationist. "Preserve or perish, the message is loud and clear for us," PK Afzal, a Class X student, says in agreement, after visiting the forest for the first time.
Koya visits his forest at least twice a day. "Trees are like our children. I talk to them regularly. Even at 60, I am free of any lifestyle disease. Whenever I leave the garden after my daily jaunt, I feel recharged," he says. A backer of the Madhav Gadgil report, Koya says it is a last-ditch effort to save the pristine forests of the Western Ghats that play a crucial role in the monsoon and rainfall patterns of the subcontinent. "Western Ghats is the lifeline of the country. We can't keep wounding it."
He says he has made his "last wish" to his wife very clear. She is to maintain this kanya vanam (sacred forest) for as long as she is able, and bury him in a corner of the forest after his death. V Mohammed Koya is a man who truly lives his life for his trees.

Article from here

Monday, August 25, 2014

Chami Devi Murmu: Jharkhand’s ‘lady Tarzan’

Chami Devi Murmu, 42, is fondly called the ‘Lady Tarzan of Jharkhand’, not because she has befriended tigers in the Muturkham Chaura and Kadel Pahar jungles of Saraikela-Kharsawan district.
She is on a mission to protect the local wildlife by saving the forests that have been fast vanishing due to the havoc caused by the timber mafia and Naxal insurgency in the area.
A native of Barisai village in Jharkhand, it has taken Chami nearly 24 years to mobilise women from over 40 villages to plant sal, eucalyptus and Acacia trees, among others, to replenish the heavily depleted green cover. Chami’s eco-brigade of over 3,000 self-help group (SHG) women has planted more than a million trees and has also developed watersheds to help raise the ground water levels in the region.
“Trees are our lives. They fulfil our very real needs for firewood and food and so I thought why not I become the saviour of our lifesavers,” said a confident Chami, adding, “Our network of women is so strong that we immediately come to know where a tree is being chopped. Our organisation, the Sahyogi Mahila group, a cluster of various SHGs, now plants trees and also protects them.”
The Santhal woman said, “Jharkhand means ‘the land of forests’ and in our local language it also means ‘a piece of gold’. For me, our forests are gold and we need to preserve them.”
(Saadia Azim)

Article copied from Here

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Ranaram Bishnoi- The 75 year Old who Stopped the March of the Desert

The Story first appeared in the Bangkok Post. (Jan 2014)
Ekalkhori village is about 100 kms from Jodhpur  but it takes us more than five hours  to get there.   The light is fading fast but in this Bishnoi territory in Rajasthan, the driver has to make innumerable halts as the chinkaras, the black bucks, the squirrels drift languorously on the highway.
We have in the back seat a volunteer of the Bishnoi Tiger Force– a wildlife vigilante group in Jodhpur district; a  menace of any poacher prowler in these part.  He gives us the  low-down on the daring animal rescues the force undertakes,  battling  gun wielding poachers in the dead of night.
He also fills us in  on the man from whom we are making this  backbreaking journey  across the arid Rajasthan plains. But there is nothing that prepares you  for the septuagenarian environment crusader.
Ranaram Bishnoi is a tall handsome man in his mid 70’s who takes his sobriquet of the ‘’tree man’’ rather seriously.

No sooner  we exchange greetings than he whisks us to the  desert  swathe where he’s planted over 27 thousand trees turning it green.  He has singlehandedly stopped the march of the desert, which left to itself would have   muzzled up the farmlands adjoining it and beyond.  The desert dunes now lie tamed and  anchored to the roots of Ranaram’s trees.  The indigenous trees he has planted are Neem, Rohida, Kankeri, Khejri, Fig, Bougainvillea and Babool.

Ranaram has been planting these trees for some years now,  drawing water  from a nearby well  and carrying it in an earthen pot on his shoulders to water the saplings.
The Bishnoi community to which Ranaram belongs is  the   forbearer of the Chipko movement, famous of its non-violent tree-hugging protest against tree felling. In 1730 , 363  Bishnoi men, women and children were killed by a local king’s soldiers  when they protested in this manner.
With such exemplars of environmental crusades  before them, the Bishnoi’s are driven to preserve and emulate  their ancestor’s legacy. Besides Rajasthan, the Bishnoi’s are found in pockets of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh and they practice their strict credo for wildlife and environmental protection everywhere.  They have 29 tenants as laid down to them by their Guru Jambheshwar, out of which 8 pertain to protecting and respecting wildlife and environment.
Bollywood actor Salman Khan had come in their crosshair in 1998 when he  shot dead a black buck in a Jodhpur village during the filming of one  of his films. The Bishnoi’s  not only gave chase but insured that the actor  was booked and he  still faces charges for the crime in a Jodhpur court.
We climb the high dune  behind Ranaram just in time to catch the saplings in the orange light of the setting sun.

Standing at this elevation, overlooking the fields and the villages beyond, you get a sense of Ranaram’s immense contribution.   You also get a sense of his fortitude in planting saplings in the sand and watering them each day to breath life into them as it were. At his age his relentless war against the tide of the desert is indeed commendable.
But Ranaram is unassumingly honest, “ It was for environment of course  but it was also for my self-interest. My field is just under this dune and had I not planted these trees my field would have been the first to be consumed”, says Ranaram.
It is this honesty that defines him and it’s his simple, unstudied idea of ecology that endears you to him; “The plants, and the animals were on the planet much before we landed here. They have more rights on the planet than us and if we cannot give that to them at least we can insure we don’t destroy them in our greed”, he says.
His loose white shirt and dhoti- the attire of an average  Bishnoi-  flutters in the desert wind as he   moves over the tree dotted dunes with the pride of a patriarch. He stoops with childlike enthusiasm to show you evidence of birds adopting his trees for nesting and shelter. And then strides fast across the sands to show you the latest saplings he planted.
He hems in all the fresh saplings with dried thorn bushes to prevent cattle or wildlife  from eating them  up. But it is man, he  says who is the  biggest danger to the trees. “ There is no end to our greed but we must realize that without these plants and animals we just cannot survive”, he says.
There are no thorn bushes or fences that can keep a man away from destroying the  ecology he says. Only some awareness,  he says can help.

This article is copied from here

Thursday, December 12, 2013

How fruit trees in Indian village save girls' lives

Sneha Surabhi (Photo: Prashant Ravi)
Sneha, four, says she regularly waters the trees her father planted for her Photos: Prashant Ravi

In India, where traditionally boys have been preferred over girls, a village in backward Bihar state has been setting an example by planting trees to celebrate the birth of a girl child.

In Dharhara village, Bhagalpur district, families plant a minimum of 10 trees whenever a girl child is born.
And this practice is paying off. Nikah Kumari, 19, is all set to get married in early June. The would-be groom is a state school teacher chosen by her father, Subhas Singh.
Mr Singh is a small-scale farmer with a meagre income, but he is not worried about the high expenses needed for the marriage ceremony. For, in keeping with the village tradition, he had planted 10 mango trees the day Nikah was born. The girl - and the trees - were nurtured over the years and today both are grown up.

Dowry deaths
"Today that day has come for which we had planted the trees. We've sold off the fruits of the trees for three years in advance and got the money to pay for my daughter's wedding," Mr Singh told the BBC.
"The trees are our fixed deposits," he said.
 The village looks like a forest or a dense green patch
In Bihar, payment of dowry by the bride's family is a common practice. The price tag of the bridegroom often depends on his caste, social status and job profile.
The state is also infamous for the maximum number of dowry deaths in the country.
But the mango trees have freed Nikah's parents of undue worries. And their story is not unique in Dharhara village.
With a population of a little over 7,000, the village has more than 100,000 fully grown trees, mostly of mango and lychee.
From a distance, the village looks like a forest or a dense green patch amidst the parched and arid cluster of villages in the area.
'Great value'
And most residents can be spotted sitting in the cool orchards outside their homes.
"Now, we've stopped doing traditional farming of wheat and paddy. We plant as many trees as we can since they are more profitable and dependable," said villager Shyam Sunder Singh.
 The villagers have been planting trees for generations
Mr Singh paid for the weddings of his three daughters after selling fruits of trees he had planted at the time of their birth.
"One medium-size mango orchard is valued at around 200,000 rupees ($4,245; £2,900) every season. These trees have great commercial value and they are a big support for us at the time of our daughter's marriage," he says.
The villagers say they save a part of the money earned through the sale of fruits every year in a bank account opened in their daughter's name.
The tree-planting has been going on in the village for generations now.
"We heard about it from our fathers and they from their fathers. It has been in the family and the village from ages," says Subhendu Kumar Singh, a school teacher.
"This is our way of meeting the challenges of dowry, global warming and female foeticide. There has not been a single incident yet of female foeticide or dowry death in our village," he says.
His cousin, Shankar Singh, planted 30 trees at the time of his daughter Sneha Surabhi's birth.
Sneha, four, is aware that her father has planted trees in her name; the child says she regularly waters the saplings.
As yet she doesn't know what dowry is, and says the trees will bear fruits for her "to eat".
The village's oldest resident, Shatrughan Prasad Singh, 86, has planted around 500 mango and lychee trees in his 25 acres of land.
His grand-daughters, Nishi and Ruchi, are confident the trees mean their family will have no problem paying for their weddings.

"The whole world should emulate us and plant more trees," says their father Prabhu Dayal Singh.

The article is taken from here

Friday, April 12, 2013

A village that plants 111 trees for every girl born in Rajasthan

In an atmosphere where every morning, our newspapers greet us with stories of girls being tormented, raped, killed or treated like a doormat in one way or another, trust India's “village republics” to bring in some good news from time to time.

One such village in southern Rajasthan's Rajsamand district is quietly practicing its own, homegrown brand of Eco-feminism and achieving spectacular results.

For the last several years, Piplantri village panchayat has been saving girl children and increasing the green cover in and around it at the same time.

Here, villagers plant 111 trees every time a girl is born and the community ensures these trees survive, attaining fruition as the girls grow up.

Over the last six years, people here have managed to plant over a quarter million trees on the village's grazing commons- inlcuding neem, sheesham, mango, Amla among others.

On an average 60 girls are born here every year, according to the village's former sarpanch Shyam Sundar Paliwal, who was instrumental in starting this initiative in the memory of his daughter Kiran, who died a few years ago.

In about half these cases, parents are reluctant to accept the girl children, he says.
Such families are identified by a village committee comprising the village school principal along with panchayat and Anganwadi members.

Rs. 21,000 are collected from the village residents and Rs.10,000 from the girl's father and this sum of Rs. 31,000 is made into a fixed deposit for the girl, with a maturity period of 20 years.

But here's the best part.

“We make these parents sign an affidavit promising that they would not marry her off before the legal age, send her to school regularly and take care of the trees planted in her name,” says Mr. Paliwal.
People also plant 11 trees whenever a family member dies.
But this village of 8,000 did not just stop at planting trees and greening their commons. To prevent these trees from being infested with termite, the residents planted over two and a half million Aloevera plants around them.
Now these trees, especially the Aloevera, are a source of livelihood for several residents.

Copyrighted article. Blogging here to spread the word.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Indian man single-handedly plants a 1,360-acre forest

A little more than 30 years ago, a teenager named Jadav "Molai" Payeng began burying seeds along a barren sandbar near his birthplace in northern India's Assam region to grow a refuge for wildlife. Not long after, he decided to dedicate his life to this endeavor, so he moved to the site where he could work full-time creating a lush new forest ecosystem. Incredibly, the spot today hosts a sprawling 1,360 acres of jungle that Payeng planted — single-handedly.
The Times of India recently caught up with Payeng in his remote forest lodge to learn more about how he came to leave such an indelible mark on the landscape.
It all started way back in 1979, when floods washed a large number of snakes ashore on the sandbar. One day, after the waters had receded, Payeng, only 16 then, found the place dotted with the dead reptiles. That was the turning point of his life.
"The snakes died in the heat, without any tree cover. I sat down and wept over their lifeless forms. It was carnage. I alerted the forest department and asked them if they could grow trees there. They said nothing would grow there. Instead, they asked me to try growing bamboo. It was painful, but I did it. There was nobody to help me. Nobody was interested," says Payeng, now 47.
While it's taken years for Payeng's remarkable dedication to planting to receive some well-deserved recognition internationally, it didn't take long for wildlife in the region to benefit from the manufactured forest. Demonstrating a keen understanding of ecological balance, Payeng even transplanted ants to his burgeoning ecosystem to bolster its natural harmony. Soon the shadeless sandbar was transformed into a self-functioning environment where a menagerie of creatures could dwell. The forest, called the Molai woods, now serves as a safe haven for numerous birds, deer, rhinos, tigers and elephants — species increasingly at risk from habitat loss.
Despite the conspicuousness of Payeng's project, forestry officials in the region first learned of this new forest in 2008 — and since then they've come to recognize his efforts as truly remarkable, but perhaps not enough.
"We're amazed at Payeng," says Gunin Saikia, assistant conservator of Forests. "He has been at it for 30 years. Had he been in any other country, he would have been made a hero."

Copyrighted article, taken from here

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Legless Chinese man has planted 3,000 trees in 10 years

A retired veteran who lost both his legs has spent 10 years planting more than 3,000 trees on the sides of north China's remote mountains. Sixty two-year-old Ma Sanxiao is a former soldier. He lost both of his legs due to sepsis, a disease where blood is overwhelmed by bacteria. He had one leg amputated in 1984, the other in 2004.

But that has not stopped him from planting more than 3,000 trees on nearby mountains in Jingxing county in Hebei Province during the past 10 years. Ma gets before 5 a.m. every day, puts on his prosthetic limbs, climbs the mountains and plants trees.

It takes Ma more than 40 minutes to climb just hundreds of metres of mountain. Because he's not "climbing", he's "crawling". Ma said that after the first amputation, he was distressed. He sold everything valuable at home and ran into heavy debt.

He then began to plant trees in 2001 on the barren mountains nearby, hoping to earn money by selling the trees. Later his situation improved as the pensions for retired veterans increased. Ma decided never to sell the trees and just let them improve the ecological environment. "I plant more trees to make the mountains greener. As you see, the straight lines of trees are just like green soldiers of the nature," he said.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Mangrove conservation is 'economic' CO2 fix

Mangrove habitats comprise less than 1% of all forest areas across the world.
But for the biodiversity they support, and the benefits they bring to communities in the form of fishing habitats and storm protection barriers, they are extremely important.
They are also being lost at a greater rate than tropical rainforests.
Similar to rainforests, they store carbon within their "biomass", which is released when the habitat is destroyed.
Their ability to capture carbon may be on average five times that of tropical rainforests, so they have become of interest to carbon-focused conservation strategists.

Full article here

Thursday, July 19, 2012

New Delhi, July 16 (IANS) Indian scientists have been successful in conserving 131 trees at the 800-year-old Ta Prohm temple in Cambodia, better known as 'Temple Tree'.
Experts from the Dehradun-based Forest Research Institute (FRI) along with the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) have been working on the Conservation and Restoration of Ta Prohm Temple (Cambodia) Project under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation Programme (ITEC) of the external affairs ministry.
The team, which has been working there since 2007, has started seeing some good results with improvement in the health of trees which were in a bad shape, threatening the monument built in the late 12th century by Jayavarman VII of the Khmer empire in memory of his mother. The temple is a Unesco World Heritage Site.
Several movies, including the Hollywood blockbuster "Tomb Raider", were shot there.
Different species of matured and young trees, some standing on the ground and some on the walls and roofs of various structures, are seen in the temple premises.
The most common tree species is Tetrameles nudiflora, locally known as 'Speung'.
N.S.K. Harsh, head of Forest Pathology at the Forest Research Institute (FRI), said that before starting the project, they conducted a survey and found that of the 131 trees in the premises, 36 needed immediate attention.
"The trees were found under stress at the site due to heavy tourist pressure, soil compaction, injuries to exposed roots and stems, cavities in trees and exposed buttresses and basal rotting. Besides, a few trees were dangerously leaning and causing the walls and other structures to collapse under their weight," Harsh told IANS.
The tree height here ranges from 40 to 80 metres with huge trunks while the girth exceeds more than three metres in some cases and buttresses span up to 13 metres at the base.
The buttresses and roots are spreading all over the structures and ground, making them magnificent visual objects.
The institute's team carried out periodic treatment of the decayed portion of trunks, stems and roots of the trees by using eco-friendly material (an oleoresin tapped from a tree) followed by cavity filling with polyurethane foam and wax.
The exposed roots of trees were covered with soil in different sections. Periodic surface treatment with anti-fungal material on etched surfaces was prescribed.
A prop was provided to support a dangerously leaning tree and was designed to withstand its swaying and weight. A metallic support was designed and erected below a wall collapsing under the weight of the tree.
"I would say timely intervention by FRI has halted further deterioration of tree health. The trees are now in a better health and their life span has increased," Harsh said.
FRI has also carried out training classes for capacity building of local stakeholders so that they can continue the conservation work on their own post-2014 when the institute's contract ends.
Regular monitoring of tree health is being done to check the level of decay, insect attacks, phenological behaviour and emerging tree growth pattern.
This is not the first time that India is helping Cambodia in restoration of a heritage site. Indian archaeologists had successfully restored the world famous Angkor Vat temple in the country.
In India, the FRI has conserved the famous Bodhi tree ('pipal') in Bodhgaya, a direct descendant of the original tree under which the Buddha meditated. It has also conserved a neem tree in the Sai Baba temple in Shirdi in Maharshtra.

Article here