Nizhal has facilitated the development of community Urban forests in several locations in Chennai. Nizhal volunteers actively participate in the upkeep of these parks. Volunteers take part in weekly shramdaan activities like raising saplings, watering, adding manure, mulching, composting, seed collection and also closely monitor the growth of each sapling planted. Nizhal tree parks are a living example of the success of community engagement for a better environment.


Ashoka vanam – This is a space to protect the endangered Ashoka tree (Saraca asica) where the indigenous Ashoka trees are planted and nurtured.

Nursey – Our nursery at KUF houses rare, indigenous tree species. All these are raised from seeds collected during the seeding season of various trees. Oue team and volunteers have lovingly cared for these saplings from seed stage till they were about 2-3 ft tall. We have now sent out our grown saplings to various schools and institutions who have continued to closely monitor these till they have blossomed into mature trees.

Indigenous trees at KUF

Acha maram, Anjan, Hardwickia Binata tree is used for making nadaswaram

Veppalai, Wrightia tinctoria, Pala indigo plant  is used in making Channapatna dolls.


Around 200 saplings have been planted on the TANUVAS grounds in the MILK COLONY, MADHAVARAM. In partnership with various Corporate groups and enthusiastic and dedicated local volunteers, the land has been fenced and the saplings are being nurtured and watered regularly. This is another model of community and institutional synergy for a green cause!

It has now grown into a self-sustained urban forest.

To participate in watering and tree care activities on weekend mornings, please reach out to Raj – 9884517217


An account of Nizhal’s Outreach – by Bhuvana Raj, a local resident

A mini tree park at Chitlapakkam, a residential suburb of Chennai, symbolizes Nizhal’s influence in spreading awareness among urban communities and reviving biodiversity. Nizhal’s volunteers like us were inspired by Kotturpuram Tree Park. An initiative that started as a road-side tree planting in a small scale transformed into creating a park with indigenous trees in our locality.

It all started when our Panchayat sanctioned budget for a park in our area. We approached our ward councilor to discuss the idea of a tree park and got support from like-minded individuals in the neighborhood. Shobha was guiding us through out and helped us source the tree saplings. We carried out tree-planting event on 11th November, 2012, with people in our locality along with Panchayat representatives. We planted 18 trees of different species like Eluppai, MalaiVembhu, Nagalingam, Poo Maruthu, Poo Varasu, ArasaMaram, SarakKondrai, Vaagai, Murukkan, Punnai, Atthi etc.

With community nurturing the park, the planted saplings have grown into young trees now with few of them blooming. Atthi& Cherry trees have started bearing the fruits. All of these wouldn’t have been possible without the involvement of local community and sense of commitment shown by Nizhal volunteers. The real challenge had been to save the planted saplings from water-logging during the rainy season and watering the trees during summer of 2013.

A barren land has been transformed into a beautiful tree park by Nizhal’s initiative. The real success was to get the local community care for the trees. Every evening, it is heartening to see children play under trees.

You too can start a green park revolution in your area. Identify a public land and approach us. We will connect you to the local Corporation authorities and guide you through the process!


The gracious city of Chennai was once known as ‘NeernilaiMaanagaram’ or the ‘City of Water bodies’! Nizhal, a Trust that focuses on preserving local bio-diversity through sensitive greening processes and working with communities, has embarked on a community driven program of eco restoration of waterbodies across Chennai. The Chitlapakkam Lake on 3rd Main Road, Chitlapakkam, is the first water body to be taken up.

This is the first concept, the Neer Vanam in the State, in creating green corridors along the bunds of water bodies to protect and prevent misuse of the space.

Vision – To conserve water bodies, enhance the quality of water and associated biodiversity resulting in wellness of aquatic ecosystems and the local community.

Mission – Planting waterbody associated indigenous tree species, nurturing and conserving through local community participation and facilitating public private model for sustainable protection of precious natural resources.

Significance of NeerVanam creation: 

  • Creation of green corridor around the water bodies will be a bio-shield that will provide strength to the bunds/banks and prevent breaching during floods.
  • Through eco restoration by planting dwindling indigenous tree species, the local biodiversity is restored creating a healthy habitat for all living communities.
  • Helps in conserving aquatic ecosystem and facilitate better water management system. 
  • Acts as a protective barrier that prevents access to heavy vehicles that drain pollutants into the water. 

This project was initiated in 2010 and first phase  completed on 6th February 2016  and the second phase  on 17th July 2016.

The initiative has drawn a tremendous response from the residential communities in the area. More than 80 members are involved in the social media group monitoring the activities. Every alternate day, a committed volunteer group waters the 200 tree saplings! On weekends, there are more volunteers who join for tree care sessions. The success of this model lies in synergy of Government, Corporates and Community as a Public Private Partnership (PPP) and can be replicated around water bodies in Kancheepuram and Chennai district.

Residents of Chitlapakkam/ adjoining areas and interested volunteers are urged to  be part of this landmark initiative. To participate in Watering and Tree Care activities on weekend mornings, please reach out to 98409 04621 /9840882940.


Initiated in November 2009 in Puzhal Central Prison, Chennai, this program has  now spread across Tamil Nadu – Cuddalore, Trichy, Pudukottai, Vellore, Salem, Madurai, Coimbatore and Palayamkottai Central Prisons!

Vision  – Green prisons – Healing Minds and Lands.

Mission  Greening the prison premises by planting suitable indigenous tree species which will enhance the ambience of the space impacting the minds of the prisoners.

Training prisoners in organic farming and vermicomposting which will have dual benefits such as a sustainable revenue generation for the prisoners and bringing good behavioural changes besides having healthy food from their own produce.

Indigenous saplings have been raised and distributed to various govt departments to add in public spaces.

In collaboration with local experts, prisoners are trained in organic farming techniques, gardening and horticulture in the prisons, and are given certificates. 

Organic vegetables, fruits, millets, organic nutrients -“panchakavyam”, “amirthakaraisal” and vermicompost are all sold under the ‘Freedom’ brand across the Freedom Bazaars. National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data shows that in 2014, Tamil Nadu prisons generated Rs.36.97 crore in gross earnings, the highest in India among all prisons!

Nizhal has shared best practices with Kerala and Maharashtra Prisons Departments, to catalyse  similar programs in their States! 


Nizhal initiated this Green MRTS program as a Public Private Partnership model in 2007, to restore the dry and barren lands around and within the MRTs campuses across Chennai!

Vision – Green and Clean stations

Mission – Planting ornamental indigenous tree species and increasing the visual appeal of the station premises and putting Name boards with one liners for each species so that it would bring awareness among the commuters and bring a change in their mind set to respect the space and the trees, preventing misuse of station premises.

2010- KotturpuramStation :

2007 – Kasturba Nagar Station



To join our regular #NizhalShramdaans at these sites, contact us at………….. 

Based on Nizhal -TEEMS India tree survey of pre and post Vardah green cover of Ward 176, the Nizhal team partnered with the Greater Chennai Corporation and planted about 90 saplings in the streets of Besant Nagar, Ward 176, Zone 13 in October 2017. Dedicated volunteers continue to take care of the young saplings and help in nurturing back lost tree cover and biodiversity!

Project sponsors: Vijaya Bank

Members of the local community joined hands with Nizhal to green the roadside leading to the Velachery MRTS station. About 40 Magizham and Kadamba saplings are now thriving.

Saplings were sponsored by PayPal

Mylapore is historically known as ‘Punnai Vanam’ os forest of Punnai trees. An effort to reintroduce Punnai trees in the Mada streets has been initiated by Nizhal in Mylapore.

1.  Institute of Mental Health, Chennai

2. Tambaram Sanatorium

3. Madras Medical College

4. Dharmambal Polytechnic College for Women and more..


At Nizhal, we believe that everyone bears a responsibility for the well being of the natural world. One of the main goals of Nizhal is to promote awareness of trees among the residents of Chennai.

The PalliyilNizhal Program was initiated with the intention of “Catching Them Young”. Various educational programs are underway in a few Corporation schools across the city to sensitize the students.
At the Thiruvanmiyur Chennai School, in partnership with the Rotary Club of Madras East. The whole school has been greened with the planting various shade giving indigenous tree saplings. A kitchen garden has been set up for growing vegetables which are used for the mid day meal scheme. Bio Composting has been initiated for the kitchen waste. All these activities are primarily carried out by the students. For them it is a hands on learning experience which they will replicate in their neighborhoods.

Nizhal brought out a set of 10 indigenous tree posters in Tamil and English. These colourful and informative posters are an educational tool to spread awareness about the rich heritage of indigenous trees among children.
The English posters can be purchased for a sum of Rs.200 per set from our office. The Tamil posters are distributed free of cost to deserving school.




Since its inception, Nizhal has conducted tree walks to acquaint citizens with the trees around them. Through its tree walks Nizhal has hoped to sensitize citizens to the role played by trees in the environment, the challenges they face and how they can be protected. Walks have also served as forums where tree lovers can network with each other.
Nizhal has conducted walks in many areas including the Kotturpuram Tree Park, Theosophical society, Guindy national park, Kalakshetra, Besant Nagar, Shastrinagar, Gandhi nagar, Kodambakkam, Anna nagar, Panagal park, Ashok nagar, Kilpauk, Natesan park, Nageswararao Park, Museum grounds, May day park, My lady park, Karunanidhi park, Nanmangalam Forest Park, KFI grounds and various neighborhoods across the city.

You can get a group of neighbors and friends and contact us to organize a walk in your locality… to know more about the green sentinels in your sight.
Nizhal has also conducted various specialized walks and talks, linking trees to every aspect of life. We have had music trees walks – about trees in Carnatic music and Folk music, “Poochi” walks – about the creepy crawlies that call the threes their home, Trees and Stories drawn from folklore and mythology, Trees in Siddha and other traditional medicine systems, Trees in dance… to name a few.
Nizhal has 3 series of walks- the Margazhi walks in December/ January, the Chithirai walks in April and the Madras day walks in August.

To participate in or organize a tree walk, write to

Did you know that there is a Corporation of Chennai order prohibiting the nailing of boards, and other fixtures to avenue trees? These are the ‘silent killers’ of our mature trees .Nizhal conducts FTCs in neighborhoods to free the trees from this abuse and literally give them a new lease of life and respect!

You too can organize an FTC in your locality. Get a group of interested citizens and contact us for guidance. Schools and colleges can take up FTCs as part of their extra curricular activities. The activity could be as simple as devoting an hour or two, every week or fortnight in your neighbourhood.


Nizhal conducted a series of workshops for the Corporation of Chennai officials and staff (AEs, Park Overseers, staff working in parks) on Tree Care, Health Management and Scientific Pruning.  This workshop was conceived and executed by the Nizhal team, as a part of Action plan post cyclone Vardah.

Nizhal experts conducted 8 sessions over a period of 2 months, at the Adyar Poonga. Interactive presentations were followed by hands on demonstrations and tree talks .

TRAINING THE TRAINER-Workshops for Teachers

 Nizhal’s interactive workshops for teachers share ideas and activities that will help inculcate in children an interest towards trees, and biodiversity in their own neighbourhoods. 

Stories, mythology, and cultural aspects of trees are shared through  tree walks and presentations. Concepts in Maths and Science are energised using tree concepts ! 


Nizhal launched Junior Yuva program in 2016 to provide a structured volunteering program to the children of age group 8-14 years and provide them an opportunity to get closer to Nature. Junior Yuva is planned as a year-long program -with 10 sessions conducted by Nizhal Resource Person(s), with one session per month. Children enrolling into Junior YuVa will learn about Nature and Trees along with fun-filled activities

Children also get opportunity to try their hand in gardening activities like tilling, weeding, watering, germination, raising saplings etc.,Children are given opportunities to act as Nizhal resource persons and address the public during Tree Walks

1. Campus surveys

 Campus surveys have been conducted in Valmiki Nagar, Kalakshetra Campus, Natesan Park, Panagal Park, Madras Club, Golf Club (YMCA)

2. Ward 176 

3. Gandhinagar

A very important step to organize systematic & sustained planting and caring of trees calls for a survey to take stock of the existing situation. With the basic information on the existing tree species and their current condition made available, planning for a good tree cover can be done in a more scientific manner. 

For these reasons, Nizhal initiated the concept of Tree Survey to be conducted in various parts of the city from 2006 onwards. Further, for sensitization and awareness building among citizens, the Tree Survey is planned to be carried out through voluntary efforts involving youth and community volunteers.

In 2014, to make an inventory of the trees across Chennai, Corporation of Chennai (CoC) was approached by Nizhal. As a pilot project, ward 176 was selected and mapped with volunteers, guided by our team.  The outcome of this activity was to improve health of mature trees in localities and plan for increasing green cover where possible. Outcome of the Survey included reporting tree abuse like cementing around the trunk, suffocating metal guards/ cables, identifying barren stretches of road and so on…! 

In this regard, TEEMS India came forward to map the trees using GPS technology. This exercise is planned to be undertaken  by the CoC in all 199 wards of the city!. In the current year, Chennai Data Portal, a chennai based company will be partnering with Nizhal in completing this project.

Isn’t it an exciting, enlightening and enriching experience to be part of this mammoth community project? Come … Join  Us… 

To conduct a tree survey in an area, download the Tree Survey Form  and Guidelines Document, fill it and enroll your details with us.


Nizhal engages with several Government Departments including PWD, Railways, Metro Water, Parks Division, HRNC, Horticultural Department, Prisons, Police Department, Veterinary University, High Court and Law college