The Vedas, Upanishads, Epics and Puranas provide a detailed description of sacred trees, plants, birds and animals. Nurturing Nakshatravana (Astro-Forests) or Nakshatravrikshas (Star Trees) was the concept evolved by ancient Indian scholars, as part of biodiversity conservation. To implement this concept, they developed a holistic strategy with people’s participation, by establishing connectivity between stars, plants, human beings, animals and birds. Their vision was to establish ex-situ conversation site with 27 trees that possess high therapeutic and aesthetic value. Their mission was to popularize such concepts among various eco educational programmes. They evolved a two-pronged approach for implementing this special tree conservation package, consisting of solo action and community participation.

In the ancient Indian culture, worshipping of Nagas (Snake God and Goddess) in open air shrines were established in the southern part of India under the spreading branches of trees like Ficus benghalensis, Ficus religiosa etc.

Banyan tree was associated with Shiva and Vishnu, trees like the Nimba (Azadirachta Indica), Banyan tree (Ficus benghalensis) and Vilwam (Aegle marmelos) etc were each sacred to a particular deity, according to the Sangam literature. Corresponding deities were placed beneath the tree. One of the notable examples is the third century BC. Shivalingam at Kalahasti.

It is interesting to note that trees with Carbon sequestration potential are mentioned in Vrikshayurvedic ancient literature. This is considered as an ex-situ conservation package programme exclusively for tree species with a view to provide health and wealth for the human beings.

“Aswatha mekham pichu manda mekham

Nygrodha mekham desa thintrinicha

Kapitha vilwa amalaka trayamcha

Panchambra vapi narakam na pasyet”

(Sarangadhara Padhathi)

During the lifespan of an individual, one should plant the following number of tree species having carbon sequestration potential and also dig a pond nearby so that he will never face any environmental health problems in his life.

The above ex-situ conservation package programme is envisaged to provide adequate oxygen to the human beings and also help to minimize the negative impact of climate change, atmospheric and dust pollutions. The name and number of the plants to be planted/conserved are Ficus religiose (Aswatha – one number), Azadirachta indica (Nimba – one number), Ficus benghalensis (Nygrodham one – number), Tamarindus indicus (Thintrini ten – numbers), Flacourtia montana (Kapitha three – numbers), Aegle marmelos (Vilwam – three numbers), Phyllanthus emblica (Amala – three numbers), Mangifera indica (Ambra – five numbers).

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