Planting the ‘Right Green’

An 11th-grade student, Aadya Joshi, is spreading awareness about the native Indian plants. She has developed a database of over 2,000 native plants in the Indian subcontinent and ranked them according to their ability to support insects and other species.

Meet Aadya Joshi – a junior year schoolgirl at the American School of Bombay, on a mission to spread awareness about our rapidly declining native plants and ecosystems and initiate action to bring them back.

In the summer after 9th grade, Aadya undertook a project that involved cleaning and greening of a dump yard at a local police station. In the process of trying to figure out what to plant she learned about native plants. Further reading and research made her realize that these native plants play a critical ecological role by providing food and habitats for a rich diversity of butterflies, insects, and birds.

Replacing them with non-native plants was not only leading to a rapid decline in the city’s insect and bird populations, but also causing the growth of insect pests like flies and mosquitoes.

“We are faced with the sixth mass extinction of species, majorly because of loss of natural habitats and native plants. It has disturbed the food cycle. Native plants are a vital source of food for insects, and in turn for other species like birds and small animals. Hence the loss of native plants and their replacement with exotic, non-native plants has a cascading effect that results in a significant decline in biodiversity,” she said.

Since the awareness about the importance of native plants was grossly lacking, she decided to start The Right Green in 2018 with three objectives in mind – creating awareness, cultivating appreciation, and encouraging action to bring back our native plants, singing birds, beautiful butterflies, and industrious insects.

Identifying the “right green”

She seeks to spread this awareness to elementary and middle school students in Mumbai, and spur them to action. She regularly conducts workshops for school children, adults, corporate and municipal authorities, and facilitates the development of native biodiversity gardens through a specially developed curriculum that includes games and other activities.

These workshops include scavenger hunt, meetings with trees, and leaf detective work to bring new appreciation for the city’s arboreal residents. She shares this workshop as a gift, without charging a fee for facilitation.

The participants’ cost is already paid for by those who have attended the workshop earlier and found it beneficial. If participants find the workshop beneficial, they may pay it forward for future participants and for taking it to communities with fewer resources.

A database of native plants

Aadya is also a budding researcher. She has initiated a growing database of native plant species in India to curtail the decline in local fauna in our cities.  She has developed a database of over 2,000 native plants in the Indian subcontinent and ranked them according to their ability to support insects and other species.

She was awarded a micro-grant by The Pollination Project, which will enable The Right Green to develop its website and curriculum-related materials in English and regional languages.

Watch the video to know more about Aadya’s journey and project.

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About the author

Jagriti Parakh