While urbanisation and globalisation are ruining the environment, the villagers of Hirpodi in Velhe taluka of the Pune district are working hard to turn barren land into a forest with the help of contour trenches and drought-tolerant trees.
Villagers working hard to turn barren land into a lush forest
According to Times Now, 70-year-old Janabai Laxman Kuditkar mentions how the hill behind his pucca house was barren when they started off. “There were only a few scattered trees on the top. Until about 10 years ago, we were cultivating ragi and sesame. But long summers and water scarcity made everything difficult,” she says. Consequently, she sold that piece of land to an NRI couple.
The previously barren land belongs to Ravindra and Sadhana Swar, who approached FORREST (Forest Regeneration and Environment Sustainability Trust) – an NGO dealing in biodiversity. The NGO will restore the land in a way that will make it beneficial for everyone.
The Swars responded to 101Reporters by email and said how they brought the land because the owner was in deep debt. “The original purpose was to build an old age home. But when we finally visited the site ourselves, we found there was no proper access road or any facilities nearby. It was just a barren hill.”
“This land is located half a kilometre from the village, at an elevation of 760m from the mean sea level. Except for some non-native Eucalyptus trees planted near the peak by the forest department, the slopes were denuded of any vegetation. There was just some seasonal grass and a few shrubs,” says Neha Singh, the founder, and director of FORREST.
Success with the trenching method
Hirpodi has over 900 people living in there and it is 60 km away from Pune. So, the development team decide to work on water and forestry. “We planned to dig contour trenches and plant drought-tolerant native species on their bunds. The first step of marking trenches all over the hill began in July 2019,” she tells 101Reporters.
The NGO is using the trenching way which is a major environmental engineering measure for conserving water and controlling soil erosion in non-arable lands. All areas with steep slopes are more prone to soil erosion, particularly if they lack vegetative cover.
A great initiative, indeed.
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