Three-year-old girl from Srinagar plants a tree each month; felicitated on World Environment Day

Recognizing her efforts to protect the ecology on World Environment day, Filza was awarded by the South Asian Voluntary Association of Environmentalists (SAVAE), a Kashmir-based organisation that focuses on environmental policy in South Asia

Salma Ashai Jun 06, 2021
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Filza Faheem being felicitated by the SAVAE on the World Environment Day 2021

At her age, most will be still trying to figure out the significance of trees, but not Filza Faheem. The three-year-old from Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir is already in mission mode and planting trees.

Recognizing her efforts to protect the ecology on World Environment day, Filza was awarded by the South Asian Voluntary Association of Environmentalists (SAVAE), a Kashmir-based organisation that focuses on environmental policy in South Asia. Later Filza was felicitated with a memento and a certificate of appreciation.

Earlier last month, the SAVAE had called online applications aimed to identify and promote young environmental ambassadors. Salma Ashai, Program Manager, SAVAE, said, “We identified and track down these young and budding responsible climate activists to project them in the centre stage and be the cheerleaders of critical environmental concerns that confront us all.”

Ashai said that Filza Faheem aims to plant a tree in a month and, so far, she has planted tens of food and other trees in many geographical areas of the Kashmir Valley. 

"This is our small effort towards the UN decade on ecosystem restoration, a global rallying cry to heal our planet", Ashai added.

Prof. Ashok Ghosh, Member Regional Empowered Committee at India's Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change wrote to the SAVAE and said that it is heartening to see the younger generation coming on front and working for the protection and conservation of the environment.

“I wish the kid best of luck. Also, I appreciate the efforts of the SAVAE for the initiative and encouraging the kids,” Ghosh added.

Filza Faheem with her grapes trees she planted last year

Udo Gattenlöhner, Executive Director of the Global Nature Fund, said that at Global Nature Fund, “The action of the South Asian Voluntary Association of Environmentalists is one fantastic example: Children planting trees every month in different regions is a strong signal and a wonderful commitment. It is the young generation that inherits this planet from older ones, fortunately raising our awareness how sustainable protection of natural resources must look like.”

Sir Dr. Huzaifa Khorakiwala,  Trustee and CEO, Wockhardt Foundation, said, “It is encouraging to see that parents are motivating their children for the cause of ecological protection. I congratulate the parents and kid for this noble cause. Also, I expect the SAVAE to involve more and more kids in their environmental programs.”

Willem Ferwerda,  CEO of Commonland and ecologist,  said, “Planting the right tree, at the right place and nurture it for decades to come is like planting a seed of love in your heart and nurture that your whole life. In this way, you will heal the planet and heal your inner self so you can inspire others to do the same.”  

Nikita Singla, Associate Director, BRIEF, said, “Great initiative by SAVAE- The current pandemic has brought to the surface the crucial need for taking care of Mother Earth. And as the pandemic transcends borders, we need to take this up as a collective human responsibility, irrespective of our diverse backgrounds. Such initiatives and more cross-border cooperation can help heal nations that are so profusely bleeding from the current crisis.”

The parents of Filza Faheem, Dr. Faheem Masoodi and Gousiya Hussain, accompanied Filza on occasion. The parents played a pivotal role in her upbringing and taught her to plant a varied variety of trees in various districts of the Kashmir Valley.  Dr. Faheem Masoodi said, “We tried our best to inculcate a sense of responsibility towards ecology. We consulted many environmental experts about the means to reverse climate change and that is how we decided to make Filza plant trees across various geographies of the region.”

(The writer is Program Manager, South Asian Voluntary Association of Environmentalists. She can be contacted at salma@savae.net/www.savae.net)

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