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Meet This Teacher Who Turns School Campus Into Herbal Garden & Mini Forest With 450 Trees of 112 Varieties

Students of Vignjana Vilasini Higher Secondary School (VVHSS) in Thamarakulam, Kerala's Alappuzha district, have been studying about environmental conservation and participating in a number of green initiatives.

M Kanika
Raphi received several accolades from Government for his green initiatives
Raphi Ramanath Received Several Accolades from Government For His Green Initiatives

Students of Vignjana Vilasini Higher Secondary School (VVHSS) in Thamarakulam, Kerala's Alappuzha district, have been studying about environmental conservation and participating in a number of green initiatives. The school successfully established a lush herbal garden as well as a Miyawaki model forest within the campus with the persistent work of students and staff over several years.

The environmental initiatives on the school site have already received multiple honors from the government as well as from various organizations, courtesy to Raphi Ramanath, a biology teacher at the school.

Apart From Herbal Gardens, School Has Also Set-up Mini-Forest

Raphi's work may be traced back over a decade, when he became the coordinator of the school's Eco-club. He claims that several batches of students have been the guardians of the herbal garden over the years. Raphi has been striving to enhance the green cover on the school grounds even though he is no longer the coordinator of the Eco club.

Apart from herbal gardens, the school has also created a mini-forest using the Japanese Miyawaki method. Raphi explains that "The Miyawaki woodland was established in September 2021 in 5 cents of land within the school,” The forest department provided the seedlings for this project, which was done in partnership with them. 

Over 450 Trees of 112 Varieties

They also constructed a fence around the mini-forest for us. The 'Vidyavanam' forest today comprises over 450 trees of 112 different types. There are a variety of fruit trees, such as mango and jackfruit, as well as some unique plants, such as Yellow Bauhinia. He adds, "These trees also attract butterflies."

Raphi was given a canvas to paint green by the NGO, which wanted to increase green cover by planting trees widely. "As part of the NGO, we planted over 1 lakh trees around Alappuzha district on my initiative." We used to plant trees or organize plantation campaigns for free, with the saplings donated by the NGO.

He Runs NGO that Produced 2 Lakh Saplings, Which He Distributed For Free

As part of the NGO, we also ran a nursery for over a year, producing over 2 lakh seedlings and distributing them for free. 

In 2016, I was promoted to State Coordinator for the same organization," adds Raphi, who worked for the NGO until 2018. 

Raphi claims that over the years, he has assisted in the establishment of herbal gardens, fruit gardens, butterfly gardens, and nakshatra vanam (the planting of trees named after stars in the Malayalam calendar) in a variety of schools, government offices, and places of worship.

Raphi Received Several Accolades from Government for His Green Initiatives

Raphi has also won official recognition for his environmental endeavors. He received the Kerala State Biodiversity Board's finest environmentalist award in 2015, and the Kerala Forest and Wildlife Department recently honored him with the Vanamitra award for his conservation efforts. 

"Right now, my concentration is exclusively on the Miyawaki forest because it demands proper care at this time," he adds of his future endeavors. Due to the epidemic, our students are unable to be near the plants. Now we're waiting for the school to open so that the kids can join in on the fun." 

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