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It was 3 years ago that a project began to take shape, in the midst of much ongoing Auroville greenwork, to secure major funding for extensive ecosystem management. A proposal was drafted and submitted to the EU, with the help of Martin Littlewood (Auroville International UK) and Greta Jensen (consultant), and has now been approved, with the funds ready and available for the beginnings of project implementation. The total project budget is euros 560,000 to be invested over 3 years, representing euros 450,000 sanctioned and the rest to be found in additional matching funds.
Joss and Anita of Pitchandikulam, Paul, Jaap, Walter, Glenn, Dirk, Mike, Gemma, now joined by Paula (a Newcomer to Auroville), will embody our own pool of human resources. This team from Auroville is enhanced by participation from Mr. Abdul Kareem of FRLHT Bangalore (Foundation for Revitalization of Local Health Traditions), Mr. A.N. Sharma, of the Institute of Rural Management, and Ms. Manjula whose work with Irula tribal women in the Chingleput area has proved very successful.
The project is designed to support the planting of 75,000 trees within Auroville, fortifying AV forest gene banks in designated sanctuary areas to the north and south of the City area, along with bunding and checkdam work needed to combat soil erosion and enhance groundwater percolation. Other aspects directly related to our own development is the partial funding for the new herbarium, under Walter's direction, at the new Botanical Gardens site.
Related video: Water and Forest
Source: Sustainable Future, CSR
The project also focuses on work in the Auroville bioregion, specifically to the north of Kaluveli Tank and its watershed. The objective is to "bring back forests on forest land", in Joss' words. In the present environmental circumstances only very small pockets of natural TDEF remain in the coastal regions, in patches of reserved forest, sacred groves, and in hillside gullies to elevations of about 500 metres. These latter have survived intact primarily in riparian microclimates, where seasonal streams ensure seed dispersal and natural topography limits access to grazing, cultivation, and fuel wood harvesting. Already in colonial times, only an estimated 0.1% of this TDEF ecosystem was in evidence. Joss hopes that in 50 years it will be possible to recreate climax tropical dry evergreen forest (TDEF) previously found predominantly along the coast of Tamil Nadu. In order to achieve this aim the project will coordinate and collaborate closely with Tamil Nadu State Forest Department officials. Auroville is already quite advanced in the work of identifying existing remnant species, with already 30 years of input, the most detailed in the last 10 years.