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High-school Mumbai Student Becomes Youth Voice for Earth Day

A file photo of Aadya Joshi.

A file photo of Aadya Joshi.

Aadya Joshi, who founded The Right Green, an initiative to restore urban biodiversity, became the voice for the environment on Earth Day celebrated on April 22.

As a part of their 50-year celebration, the Earth Day Network, headquartered in Washington DC, showcased 50 voices of environmental youth leaders from Asia. The Earth Day Network is a preeminent global network that brings awareness to environmental issues and coordinates Earth Day activities across the world.

One of these voices belonged to a high-school student from Mumbai, Aadya Joshi, the founder of the Right Green.

For the last two years, this 17-year-old has been working tirelessly to catalogue the native trees of India and their feeding relationships with local insects. With assistance from University of Delaware professor Dr Douglas Tallamy, Joshi has created a database of 2,000 native plants and over 15,000 plant-insect feeding relationships for the Indian subcontinent. Using this, she is preparing a list of plants that support the most biodiversity for important cities in the different eco-regions of India.

“The problem is that many people don’t know that a lot of the trees they are planting in their cities and yards are not native, and that they do not provide any food for local insects and birds. This is causing our insects and birds to disappear, leaving us with harmful pests like mosquitoes,” said Joshi.

“Many of our common trees like gulmohar, bougainvillea, royal palms and copper pod, lantana, and eucalyptus, which we think of as local are, in fact, foreign trees imported during the colonial era, and which do not support local bird and insect species," she said. "If we, instead, plant our native trees, our birds and butterflies will come back and restore health to our urban ecosystems.”

These native trees are not just beautiful, but also require less water, maintenance, and support our local biodiversity.

Nishu Kaul, Director (Earth Day), South & South-East Asia for Earth Day Network, said, "We are thrilled to see young Aadya's commitment to grow native trees. We thank her wholeheartedly for dedicating her animated video (The Right Green) on 50 years of Earth Day. The video explains clearly about the need for growing native trees and will be a good resource for children's environmental education."

"On occasion of the 50th year celebration of Earth Day, The Right Green has put out a video that explains the importance of native plants in creating healthy ecosystems. This is also being promoted globally," she said.

first published:April 23, 2020, 19:03 IST