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Nature Walk often means just taking a walk through nature and experiencing the delights nature has to offer. But nature walks can also offer learning opportunities

Climate change and its impact is widely discussed across the world. Articles flesh out the nuances. Awareness campaigns are launched to prevent or at least reduce destruction. Amidst this, a campaign for the environment is happening in action — Nature Walk. It provokes children to think about their habitat.

Suzhal Arivom’s Nature Walk is a unique learning method. It trains children to grasp the environment of their habitat in a simple way. This is not a class; but happens in an environment where many life forms sustain.

Suzhal Arivom’s Nature Walk trains children to grasp the environment of their habitat where many life forms sustain.

Last week, I participated in a Nature Walk at the Pallikaranai marshland in which parents, children and youth participated. The event is publicized on social media. There is no fee for participation but registration is done online. Guidelines and good practices are sent through email.

Suzhal Arivom’s Nature Walk is a unique learning method. It trains children to grasp the environment of their habitat in a simple way. This is not a class; but happens in an environment where many life forms sustain.

On a recent Sunday, at 6:30am the walk started near a college in Sholinganallur. At first, an introduction to bounties of nature in the Sholinganallur – Medavakkam area.

Information regarding topography, water channels were shared. Then the organizers introduced the trees, plants and climbers along the roads along with the insects, water plants and so on in the area. They explained in simple language the origins of the flora and fauna, their use, medicinal properties, importance, importance to biodiversity and so on.

Invasive species of flora and their impact were also clearly explained to the participants of the walk. The children were completely taken in and asked questions to expand to their knowledge.

Birds that were swimming or resting were shown and talked about. The children were told how to identify each bird.

Placards with photographs of birds were carried. They helped to quickly identify the birds that fly at a distance.

The relationship with the environment, dependence, biodiversity and so on were also explained.

The walk proceeded to Karapakkam where there is a reserved forest under the control of the forest department. This was an opportunity to explain to children concepts relating to forests such as tree species, flocks of birds. The benefits of expanding tree cover and the need to use naturally occurring materials in daily life were also explained.

Then the walk proceeded to the learning center of the forest department. The session there started with handouts by the forest department on bird cover. Important books published by the forest department were introduced. Children learned how plastic and chemical products used in daily life affect the environment. Naturally occurring replacements were introduced to them. The experiences of those who used these materials were shared. Nearly three hours had passed without the participants getting distracted or bored.

Guna, Pavitra, Keerthi, Vidhya, Kumaresan and other instructors at Suzhal Arivom, the organizers of the Nature Walk, have a day job at various firms. They were environment enthusiasts who made it a point to enhance their knowledge of the environment and then formed a group to take it to the people. Deepak Venkatachalam has conceptualized the walk. He is the founder of Suzhal Arivom.

He says that the walk was started in 2015. To prevent environmental degradation, knowledge of the environment has to be spread, he says. This purpose of the walk is to take this knowledge to the people in simple terms.

Nature Walk happens in Chennai, Tiruppur, Erode, Salem, Dharmapuri and other places. People are very receptive, he adds.

Suzhal Arivom plans to take this concept to school and college students. Those interested can send email to suzhalarivom@gmail.com

Besides Nature Walk, Suzhal Arivom organizes special lectures on environment protection online. Subject matter experts deliver these lectures. So far some 120 such lectures have been given, says Deepak Venkatachalam.

The lectures are available as YouTube videos. No fee is charged for the programs and the entire initiative is volunteer-driven.


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