The Auroville Forest Group
You may have noticed that when placing an order, you can choose to donate some money to The Auroville Forest Group. This is a quick write up about them and some of their most recent work.
From October 2015 until January 2016, The Auroville Forest Group planted about 15,000 seedlings in over 20 locations within the Auroville area. Of these seedlings 90% were Tropical Dry Evergreen Forest (TDEF) species, the only living flora type indigenous to the Auroville area. The remaining 10% were local long term timber species which were planted as a part of the group’s sustainable forestry effort. Their main focus was (and still is) to plant seedlings that would produce a forest rich in terms of bio-diversity, which is why 173 different types of plants and trees were rigorously planted.
Most of the seeds were collected from local areas just outside Auroville and only some from the Auroville forests, as the regeneration of Auroville TDEF species has only just begun. The seeds were then cared for in Aurovilian (plant) nurseries until they grew into forest-ready seedlings!
It takes a lot of energy and effort to plant thousands of new plants and several challenges had to be overcome before reaching the group’s most recent goal. Digging all of the holes needed for the seedlings had to be done very quickly with the help of local labor, right after the early monsoon rain made the soil workable. That’s why the group’s efforts are highly influenced by weather conditions and the availability of labor.
Luckily, they had a high rainfall monsoon in 2015, which meant that the planted seedlings received a lot of water after their planting to prepare them for the long dry season.
One of the big responsibilities of The Auroville Forest Group has been the careful clearance of the forest and removal of trees that fell during the violent cyclone of 2011. This clearing work has now been completed in most areas and the cleared areas already being replanted with long term, cyclone-evolved indigenous species of the Tropical Dry Evergreen Forest.
Due to the cyclone of 2011 and the subsequent opening up of the canopy, three species of thorns and stragglers have been thriving in the Auroville forests, coming to the point of dominating and damaging other tree and plant species by taking advantage of the new light regime. The Auroville Forest Group formed and trained a team whose main focus was to set up some test plots to control these species by clearing areas and using the removed dominating species to help protect the planted areas.
More recently, The Auroville Forest Group estimated that they worked on approximately 50 acres during the first half of this year. The prepared areas can now be minimally managed to allow them to flourish! The work has also opened up areas for more long term indigenous vegetation planting and a greener future in Auroville!