20 July 2006

Hill Fires

The main work and accomplishment of the organisation The Mountain of Medicine, has been to combat the fires on Arunachala that rage each summer, leaving the Red Mountain black. Many are of the opinion that the slopes of the Hill are nearly barren, but some time spent upon them will reveal the opposite to be true. There are countless little remnant pockets of the forests that would have once covered the Hill and all over the slopes small trees are regenerating naturally, both from root stock of cut trees, and from seeds born by birds and the wind.

If this regeneration process is allowed to carry on unhindered, it dwarfs any efforts that could be made through plantings. The Mountain of Medicine, in conjunction with other local concerned bodies and individuals, has put a great deal of effort into a variety of strategies to prevent the Mountain from burning. Three years into the process, and the organisation is (cautiously) optimistic about the way things are going.

Whereas previously the entire Hill would burn each summer without anybody doing anything about it, now there is a situation where, in the event of fire, gangs of schoolboys go upon the slopes to fight it. The boys are accompanied by workers of The Mountain of Medicine and the State Forest Department. Preventive strategies have ensured that fewer fires start in the first place. In 2004 less than 25% of the Hill was burned, in 2005 less than 15% and so far this year less than 3%.
[Thanks to Govinda Bowley for this post)


Divyakka said...

Great progress made because of continuing efforts of the concerned. Yea!

Arunachala Living said...

It's really heartbreaking to see the Hill 'literally' on fire and excellent folk are now active and beginning to be successful in their efforts to prevent fires on the Hill.