Maharaja’s College, Ernakulam started as a humble elementary English school way back in 1845. From then to now it has transformed itself into a prestigious higher education institution thriving to provide quality education to youth from all sectors of society. Catering to the academic and social requisites of all stakeholders, the college strives to sculpt the students into responsible citizens of tomorrow. Its rich tradition and enviable triumphs in all arenas has earned the college recognition as a Centre of Excellence in the state from the Government of Kerala. In 2014, the college was awarded Autonomous status by University Grants Commission (UGC) and is accredited with A grade by NAAC.
Located in the heart of the city, the campus is spread over 25-acres of land rich in lush green vegetation. The tall elegant and shady trees and the thick foliage make it the lungs of the city. Rightly called so, alongside making the campus aesthetic, these verdant beauties also make the campus breathable. In times when global warming and climate change is making a havoc on the environment and ecology, the role played by these green treasures to make an impact on environment by way of carbon sequestration is substantial.
When world over educational institutions are taking measures to declare themselves carbon neutral campuses, Maharaja’s College, Ernakulam has also embarked on the journey in this direction. The first step in form of a Green Audit was completed in December 2019, with major objectives to sensitize the stakeholders the concept of carbon foot print, calculate the specific carbon footprint of the campus, classify them as carbon negative, neutral or positive and to create carbon mitigation plans. The project suggested schemes to make the campus carbon neutral or even better, carbon negative, by implementing various carbon mitigation strategies. One of the significant strategies recommended was to intensify carbon sequestration by increasing the green cover and to grow more trees and plants.
Carbon sequestration is the process involved in the long-term storage of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Trees remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through the natural process of photosynthesis and store the carbon in their leaves, branches, stems, bark, and roots there by forming one of the best carbon sinks ever known. In quest of strategies to reduce carbon foot print and to mitigate the effect of carbon emission especially in the urban scenario where the campus is situated, it becomes highly imperative to educate the leaders of tomorrow the concept of carbon neutral campuses. Moreover, students could be great ambassadors for spreading the message of conserving biodiversity and preservation of nature for a sustainable future. In this regard, as part of the Green Initiatives of the college a project is now launched to document the Floristic Diversity of Maharaja’s College and to digitize the flora in a phased manner. The first phase comprised of inventorying the tree diversity of the campus and to digitize them using the QR code enabled labelling and making of a Digital Garden.
The major objectives of this project are
1. To inventory the floral diversity of Maharaja’s College
2. To educate the stake holders the importance of the plants and trees by tagging them with QR Code enabled labels
3. To launch a Digital Garden to provide at everyone’s fingertips information about each plant and tree in the campus.
QR code and Digital Garden
The concept of QR code enabled digitization of flora and creation of First Digital Garden of India at Kanakakkunnu Palace, Thiruvananthapuram is credited to Shri Akhilesh S.V. Nair, Research Scholar, Department of Botany, University of Kerala, and Dr. A. Gangaprasad, Professor, Hon. Director, Centre for Biodiversity Conservation, Department of Botany, University of Kerala. The Quick Response (QR) codes with nine standard features (Denso Wave Incorporated 2013) are two-dimensional barcodes which can be easily read by scanning using a QR decoder available even in the mobile phones. QR code with an ISO standard could encode information such as text, URL or other data that can be up to 7089 numeric characters, 4,296 alphanumeric characters and 2,953 binary (Yoon et al., 2011). QR codes have many advantages over traditional barcodes. It has fast readability and could hold more information than the traditional barcode. They could as well be read from any directions (Soon, 2008).
The unique QR code specific to a plant is placed along with the label to create a digital garden. Once decoded it translates the code into a URL (Uniform Resource Locator) which opens the website providing data of each tagged plant species. Students and plant enthusiasts could get accurate, and reliable information regarding the plants and trees in the campus within a few seconds making the information retrieval easy and interesting.
Dr. Mathew George (Principal)
Sri. Santhosh T Varghese (IQAC Coordinator)
Phase one of the project is implemented in collaboration with Centre for Biodiversity Conservation, Department of Botany, University of Kerala under the guidance and support of Dr.(Prof.) A. Gangaprasad (Hon. Director, Centre for Biodiversity Conservation) and Sri. Akhilesh S.V. Nair, (Research Scholar, Department of Botany, University of Kerala).
Dr. Jaseela Fathima (Assistant Professor of Botany)
Sri. Thomas Antony (Assistant Professor & Head of Department of Botany)
Dr. Krishnakumar K (Associate Professor of Botany)
Smt. Jessmary James (Assistant Professor of Botany)
Smt. Shanti Vasudevan CN (Assistant Professor of Botany)
Dr. Shyam Kumar S (Assistant Professor of Botany)
Dr. Kavitha R (Assistant Professor of Botany)
Dr. Stephen Sequeira (Assistant Professor of Botany)
Dr. Dhanya S Panicker(Assistant Professor of Malayalam)
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