August Tree Festival 2022 – A report
India is a geologically diverse country with different species of trees flowering and fruiting in different seasons, the monsoon being no exception. Citizen scientists across India were motivated to observe the monsoon form of the seasonal trees around them through SeasonWatch’s August Tree Festival 2022. We are happy to report the results of this festival while extending thanks to the contributors for making it a success.
India has had a difficult year rainfall-wise with excess rains in some states while deficient rain in others. The August Tree Festival 2022 was an exercise to understand how the seasonal tree species of India are reacting to these rainfall conditions.
The festival started on August 15, 2022, amidst alerts of heavy rainfall in many parts of the country. The SeasonWatch team and the citizen scientists were concerned about observing trees in the heavy rains, which is why it thrilled us to find 5181 observations recorded during the 17-day festival, including 2891 regular and 2290 casual observations!
Figure 1: Locations of tree observations
Observations were made from 22 states and 2 Union Territories. Kerala tops the event with 3112 observations, followed by Tamil Nadu (403) and Maharashtra (365). 296 observations were made in the Andamans despite the heavy rainfall and network issues by the wonderful people at Andaman and Nicobar Environment Team (ANET) while the Foundation of Ecological Security (FES) team recorded 216 observations from Madhya Pradesh.
Figure 2: State-wise observations recorded during the August Tree Festival 2022
The participants of the festival have observed 130 out of the 166 tree species of SeasonWatch. Mango topped the most observed species with 474 observations. Jackfruit, Neem, Teak, Tamarind, Guava, and Indian Laburnum were other most observed species, along with unusually many observations on 3 Ficus species, owing to the ‘Ficus Frenzy’ challenge.
Figure 3: 10 most observed tree species from the August Tree Festival 2022
While citizen scientists tirelessly observed trees, SeasonWatch also initiated the India Treewalks Network – a platform for the treewalk resource people from all over India. The network aims to motivate resource people to lead treewalks in their localities, take their events to a larger audience and share their experiences and insights with fellow resource people. Treewalks were conducted by some members of the network in West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Orissa, Rajasthan, Delhi, and others during the August Tree Festival 2022.
The anecdotes of these walks are summed up in this Instagram post: https://www.instagram.com/p/CiNKO5uPS49/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link
If you lead treewalks in your city and would like to be a part of the India Treewalks Network, please fill out this form to register – https://bit.ly/3S91lUq
Figure 4: Treewalks conducted by enthusiastic resource people in India- (Top left to bottom right) by Sonia in Maharashtra, Savithri teacher in Kerala, Richa Singhi in Rajasthan, Shrey Gupta in Himachal Pradesh, Karyashala team in Gujarat and Kedar Champhekar in Maharashtra.
The April tree festival saw the flowering of the Indian Horse chestnut from Himachal Pradesh during the April tree festival. An inadvertent follow-up image of the fruiting was shared by SeasonWatcher Vipul during the August tree festival – An exciting photo-documentation of the species!
Figure 5: The Indian Horse Chestnut tree from Shimla, Himachal Pradesh – flowering in April, fruiting in August 2022. Photos by (L) Aditi Sharma, (M, R) Vipul.
The August Tree Festival had 2 challenges for the participants – ‘100-not-out’ and ‘Ficus Frenzy’. Completion of the 100-not-out challenge required people to observe 100 tree individuals per week of the festival. A unique ‘Ficus frenzy’ challenge asked the citizen scientists to observe as many individuals as possible of the 5 SeasonWatch Ficus species. An Instagram poll shows what SeasonWatch followers thought about the two challenges.
Figure 6: The Instagram poll that shows both the festival challenges were enjoyed equally.
This challenge has been known to ignite the competitive spirit in the SeasonWatchers in previous tree festivals! Completion of the challenge required SeasonWatchers to upload more than 200 observations during the festival. 7 individuals and 4 schools have achieved this feat. Special shoutout to Arun Vasireddy (Telangana), Sonu Kumar (Rajasthan), and the FES Bichhiya team (Madhya Pradesh) for coming close to completing the challenge. Among schools, Mount Carmel High School (Kottayam, Kerala), AKGM GHSS (Kannur, Kerala), and Gandhi Smarak UP School (Mangalam, Kerala) crossed 100 observations, while Kendriya Vidyalaya (Kanjikode, Kerala) came very close to 100 observations. Well done! We shall cheer for your victory in the next tree festival!
The individual winner of the challenge is Surendhar Boobalan (Pondicherry) with 405 observations. M.T.S.S.K.G.U.P. School (Kerala) is the winner in the school category with 600 observations. Congratulations, and thank you for your wonderful contribution!
The ‘Ficus frenzy’ challenge sought to draw attention to the five SeasonWatch Ficus species. Figs are ecologically fascinating trees often play a crucial role in maintaining ecological communities and ecosystem function. It is thrilling to see that three Ficus species made it to the top 10 most observed species during the August Tree Festival!
Figure 7: Instagram poll where people chose the Ficus species most commonly found in their neighborhood.
761 observations were recorded, of which Peepal (Ficus religiosa) with 400 observations became the most observed Ficus species, followed by Country Fig (Ficus racemosa) with 175 and Banyan (Ficus benghalensis) with 157 records. Two more Ficus species are included in the SeasonWatch species list, namely the Soft Fig (Ficus mollis), found in drier parts of Peninsular India, and Punjab Fig (Ficus palmata) found in the Himalayan region. There are 29 observations on the Soft Fig and none on the newly added SeasonWatch species Punjab Fig. Mapping these observations tells us that the Ficus species were fruiting in most parts of the country.
Figure 8: Locations of the observed Ficus observations and that of fruiting individuals
43 individuals and schools took up the Ficus frenzy challenge. Of them, 4 individuals and 3 schools completed the challenge. People took the opportunity to connect with and observe the various Ficus trees in their neighborhood. Ficus observers shared their photos and experiences when documenting the Fig species around them. A fun quiz on Ficus species was created and shared across SeasonWatch social media handles, to which people responded by sharing their scores. Here, take this quiz and test your Ficus knowledge yourself – https://bit.ly/3A61gZx
Figure 9: (L-R) Seetha Gopalakrishnan’s little one connecting with a giant Peepal. Tikulli Dogra admires a Ficus species other than the SeasonWatch Ficus species. Omkar Kane shares his thoughts when looking up an old Banyan tree.
To win the Ficus Frenzy challenge, the SeasonWatchers needed to observe at least 10 individuals of any two out of the five Ficus species in the SeaonWatch list. The winner in the individual category – Vipul observed Peepal (66), Banyan (17), and Country Fig (15), with a total of 98 observations. The winning school St. Michael’s HS, Kavil observed 190 individuals of 4 Ficus species, namely Peepal (117), Banyan (16), Country Fig (48), and Soft Fig (9). Congratulations, Ficus-lovers!
The challenges and announcing winners are only a part of SeasonWatch’s tree festival. What makes the event successful is all the motivated individuals and school students across India. We are proud to announce all the contributors to the April Tree Festival. We congratulate and thank each one of you for your dedication and enthusiasm toward trees and SeasonWatch.
Surendhar Boobalan, K. S. Lyla, Vipul, ANET, P. RAJANGAM, Manohar Pawar, Sayee Girdhari, Vasireddy Arun, Sonu Kumar, FES Bichhiya (SHT Mandla), FES Niwas (SHT Mandla), Seetha, Widunbiliu, Alvin T Biju, Greenbird, Rama Narayanan H, Suhel Quader, Rama Lakshmi Peri, Sreelakshmi, Geetha Ramaswami, P S Baiju, PRABHAKARAN. PV, Saw John Aung Thong, Vishwanath, THRYAMBAK SHA, VISHNUBALAJI, Amruththa, FES Anjaniya (SHT Mandla), Ram Kumar Maravi, Shivcharan, Soumik, Amisha Santhosh, Hari Haran P, Sweedle Shivkar, Vijayabharathi, Amritesh, Angul FES, Arunima Sengupta, Dalip Singh, Gaurav Santosh Desai, Gaurav Vadher, Jaswant Singh, Loknath Sahu, Pradip Mishra, Arunkumar C M, DhanushyaM, FES-Mandla, Jaimin Makwana, Karthikeyan, Krishna, Nature Conservation Society of Nashik, Reshma, Anjusha Suki, Aravind P S, Arvind Singh, Bincy Joseph, Bobby M, Devi, Ganeshwar S V, Jeyadharshini, J. Ramadas, Maharani, Paripooranam, Pavana, S VISHNUSANKAR, Saraswati Rana, Sonia, SUKUMAR S, Thanikodi.
St Michael’s HS Kavil, M.T.S.S.K.G.U.P.School, Islahiya Public School- Kottakkal, Bemannur GUPS- Paruthippulli 678573, Blossom English School- Kainatty, AKGM GHSS PINARAYI- KANNUR, Gandhi Smarak U. P. School- Mangalam, KENDRIYA VIDYALAYA KANJIKODE, Veeravnchery LP school, C. A. U. P. S. Mampad, Panchayat Union Middle School Thalavaipatti-Salem, G. U. P. SCHOOL KAYANNA, G. U. P. S, Chavaradarsan CMI Public School-Koonammavu, GUPS VARADIYAM, Sree Narayana College- Alathur, KPM MODEL SCHOOL, THIAGARAJAR COLLEGE OF ARTS AND SCIENCE, GHSS Kuttamath, GUPS Chathamangalam, Kizhuthally East U P School, Wadi Rahma English school Kodiyathur, Pariong Presbytery Higher Secondary School, VPAMUP SCHOOL PUTHOOR, Amritakairali Vidya Bhavan Senior Secondary School, AUP School Edakkaparamba, HariSree Public School, MANKARA WEST BASIC AND U P SCHOOL, AUPS Mannengode, GLPS OLAKARA, K. Vaibhavi, GUPS PUTHUR, National HSS Vattoli, Mar Thoma Central School-Cherunniyoor- Varkala, St Helens H S S Lourdepuram, St Michael’s Anglo Indian higher secondary school Kannur, Umlps Thiruvilwamala, VVHSS THAMARAKULAM, Ace public school, Chinmaya Vidyalaya Naruvamoodu, Mahlara public school, GFHSS NATTIKA, GUPS PEROOR VADASSERY, Kerala Public School- Kadma, Eranad Knowledge City Public School- Manjeri, Pallottihill Public School Agastianmuzhi Mukkam, Amrita Vidyalayam Pathanamthitta, Chinmaya Vidyalaya Kolazhy, CS Academy, EKC PUBLIC SCHOOL, G. H. S. S Kadambur, G.U.P.S Edavelakalm, G. H. S. S. KUMMIL, GHSS PERINGOLAM, GHSS THONNAKKAL- Kudavoor, Govt UPS Sreenarayanapuram, GOVT. LPS ATTINGAL, Gurukulam Public School- Venginissery, Kerela public school Kadma, KKMGVHSS Elippakulam, Kuthuparamba HSS, Little Daffodils School, MHMAUPS Kilinakkode, Mount Carmel Girls Higher Secondary School Kanjikkuzhy Kottayam, Narikkuni English Medium, National Institute of science education and research-Bhubaneswar, S. B. O. A. PUBLIC (SR.SEC.) SCHOOL, Sacred Heart HSS Thiruvambdi, Shree Sankara Vidya Peetam, St. Joseph’s EMHSS Trikkakara, TSSGUPS.