29 September 2006


Species Selection and Planting Techniques for Arunachala Greening.

I am including an interesting extract from a narrative Govinda Bowley wrote for our Arunachala Grace News, October issue. As the Founder of the Mountain of Medicine and the newly appointed Secretary of the Arunchala Reforestation Society, Govinda is well-informed about the current greening situation on Arunachala.

'The earliest efforts made toward greening Arunachala had included some exotic species, as well as others that while native to India, would not naturally be found in this locality. It is my feeling that even leaving aside the various arguments regarding alien species, the simple point is that the forests of this area are so species rich, so interesting and so beautiful, that there is no impulse to look outside such a treasure trove when reforesting the Holy Mountain. I also believe that from a purely pragmatic viewpoint, the survival rate of local species will on the whole be better, though this is of course not always the case.

There is a common perception regarding the 'forests' of Mount Arunachala: that there are no such thing as 'forests' and the slopes of the Hill are basically barren, rocks with a few thorn bushes here and there, and only wild lemon grass covering what little soil there is. This couldn't be further from the truth. While it is true that there is almost nowhere a closed canopy of old forest, pockets of stunted remnant vegetation survive all over the Hill, and most promisingly, there is also a natural regeneration taking place everywhere. It is by observing closely these remnant pockets and the fresh re-growth that we can best learn what will be the most appropriate species to plant. It is also valuable to visit nearby forests that remain somewhat pristine, in order to garner more information regarding appropriate species. These visits are also very rewarding for the project staff, giving them the experience of being in true forest and a feeling for where we are heading in our work.'

[Govinda Bowley]
Arunachala Grace News, October Issue
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