Aadya Joshi was a young child when she started searching intently in the trees in her native Mumbai, India, for the beautiful colored birds that her grandparents had described as decorating the branches when they were growing up just two generations prior.
Joshi remembers being disappointed that she could never find the birds of which her grandparents spoke–not for lack of trying, but because the birds simply didn’t live there anymore.
The knowledge that these birds would no longer grace Mumbai’s skies due to their loss of habitat and food affected Joshi so much that she decided to take action—and she didn’t wait until she was older to make a difference.
At 15 years old, Joshi, now 17, founded The Right Green, an initiative that aims to spread awareness about the vital role of native plants in supporting local fauna, like insects, birds, and small animals, and facilitate community action towards their restoration.
“Today we are in the midst of the sixth mass extinction of species. One of the important causes is the loss of natural habitats and native plants. Native plants serve as a vital food source for insects, which in turn are food for other species like birds and small animals. Hence the loss of native plants and their replacement with exotic, non-native plants has a cascading effect that results in a significant decline in biodiversity.”
Awarded a TPP grant in November 2019, Joshi developed a special curriculum that includes games and other activities to spread awareness about biodiversity to elementary and middle school students in Mumbai. The Right Green also works to stem the decline in local fauna in India’s cities by housing a growing database of native plant species that supports the largest number of local species—a project she pioneered with the assistance of Dr. Douglas Tallamy, an authority on urban ecosystem regeneration, whom Joshi contacted after educating herself on the biodiversity crisis. The Right Green also conducts workshops to encourage and educate local citizens and municipal authorities to choose native plants for their yards and gardens to help restore India’s native biodiversity.
Joshi created the curriculum with the intent of spurring young people like herself into action.
“There are four steps required towards change: awareness, appreciation, access, and action. [Through these steps] and the educational program I created on understanding and implementing native biodiversity at the school level, I will empower school children to learn about native plants and develop their own biodiversity gardens.”
Joshi’s two-pronged approach to the biodiversity crisis—educating young people and creating the database—demonstrates a keen willingness to address not just the symptoms, but also the root causes of the issue: a trait that is a hallmark of successful TPP grantees and a cornerstone of TPP’s values.
Says Joshi: “I realized that a large number of non-native plants in the city of Mumbai was one of the reasons for the disappearance of the birds. I found that spreading awareness could help bring back some of the more than 250 species of birds and numerous species of butterflies and the rich biodiversity that our city once had.”
TPP thanks Joshi for the incredible work she’s doing to restore balance to India’s biodiversity, and we hope that one day, the birds so loved by her grandparents will fly once again.