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A community-based agroforestry initiative that empowered farmers to reforest deserted ecosystems in Southern India.



Isha Foundation (Project Green Hands)

Tamil Nadu Project Green Hands

Tamil Nadu, South India

The dry forests of Tamil Nadu in South India are the most threatened ecosystem in India, with the remaining forests scattered in small fragments across the region. Project GreenHands, an Isha Outreach initiative, was created to unite an entire state around spiralling desertification, where many major rivers have dried up and agricultural failure is peaking through the combined effects of land degradation and drought.
This agroforestry initiative does not focus on a single planting area but utilises individual farmlands spread out across different districts to transform the lives of farmers and their landscapes through reforestation. This project ceased in 2020, evolving into the Cauvery Calling project when covid restrictions eased.




Hectares of forest

80-95% of forests in the area have been deforested



Trees planted


Local communities and farmers risk extreme poverty and malnutrition because of the lack of fertile land and degradation. Many have been forced to sell their lands, migrate to cities, and be pushed into a vicious cycle of poverty. This agroforestry project is community-led and sees three tree nurseries growing four million saplings annually, then planted on local farmers' small-scale farmlands. This process provides the farmers with ecologically and economically beneficial native or naturalised trees. These trees, over time, not only assist in reforesting the area, countering the effects of climate change and stabilising weather, but they also provide additional income through timber and fruit harvests or serve as fodder for livestock.

Planting partner worker at West Papua
Eden Reforestation Projects image of worker in West Papaua


More than 95% of the Eastern dry-evergreen forests are deforested, and more than 80% of the South dry deciduous forests have been cleared. The dry forests of Tamil Nadu are in critical danger, with the area at risk of becoming a desert if nothing is done. Many species, including the wild dog, sloth bear, Indian tiger, wild buffalo, Malabar squirrel and spot-billed pelican, are at risk because of this habitat loss.
This Agro-forestry approach sees trees playing a vital role in agriculture, adding to soil fertility, fruit, nut, seed and peppercorn production grown alongside crops and animal husbandry. It makes forestry indivisible from farming, increases fertility and water conservation, and provides income, shade, and fodder for animals.


In 2020, Isha Outreach paused this reforestation project due to the COVID-19 lockdown and subsequent restrictions. During this time, the project evolved into another previously TreeSisters-supported project called Cauvery Calling which you can read more about here. While both projects are no longer funded by TreeSisters, they were inspiring examples of empowering communities and voluntary engagement in tree planting that directly benefited the farmers, their families, the land and the water.

Eden Reforestation Projects Mangroves in West Papua

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