Friday, February 18, 2005

Heblikar plans another urban forest in city

Urban forest in city
This project will serve as a model for more conservation efforts in urban centers

Taking its agenda of painting the city green forward, Eco Watch, a city-based NGO managed by Suresh Hebliker, is working to convert a 30-acre piece of land into an urban forest. The forest will provide some much-needed lung space to Bangaloreans and act as a carbon sink by absorbing vehicular and other emissions.

Speaking on the project, Hebliker said, "the Karnataka State Police Housing Corporation owns around 70 acres of land located on the outskirts of the city off Outer Ring Road. Around 40 acres of the land will be used by the state police department for training and the remaining 30 acres have been handed over to us to develop into green wood lots".

Features of the project

The area will host diverse species of native trees, plants, shrubs, wild flowers, herbs, creepers, medicinal plants and other flora. A variety of species in huge numbers from different geographical regions will be planted to enhance the ecological system as the mortality rate of plants is around 40 percent.

Saplings will be planted in different phases to enable the growth of shade-tolerant species under the canopy of broad-leaved varieties. This will not only enrich the diversity of the area but also establish microclimatic conditions.
Rainwater harvesting.

The process

Soil sampling and quality analysis: The soil quality at the project areas will be analysed before taking up the planting activity. This is to determine the soil condition and its capacity to provide the required nutrients and minerals for plant growth.
Soil conditioning and land preparation:

After the soil analysis, suitable soil treatment will be taken up to enhance plant growth. The soil will also be treated with organic manure/vermicompost to further upgrade the soil, as and when required. Specific field operators will be hired for the activity.
Plant collection and maintenance: As soon as the soil/land is ready, planting will be undertaken. Native species will be planted in the project area to enhance and enrich the biodiversity in the vicinity. The saplings will be collected from different geographical regions. The species include various types of native trees. These saplings need to be maintained at the project area. This will include regular maintenance and monitoring like watering, de-weeding, manure application etc. A small nursery will be required for stocking and maintaining these plants.

Planting activity: The saplings collected will be planted at the project site. Different sections of society will be involved in the planting activity to sensitise them to issues and concerns related to environment and conservation.

Dire need for urban forests

This is the second such project taken up by the NGO, the first one being the ASC Grounds where 35,000 saplings were planted. On the need for such initiatives, Hebliker said, "industrialisation and unplanned urban expansion have taken a major toll on vital environmental assets of the city. Increased migration of people to the city, eventual congestion, and unprecedented rise in vehicular population has all added to the deteriorating environmental conditions. The health of the urban populace has become a matter of serious concern".
Increasing the green cover in and around Bangalore is the ideal solution.


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