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Auroville Adventure

March '03

Stepping up awareness

- by Abha Prakash


Participants viewing area maps and other exhibits before the walk

For two consecutive Sundays last month, Auroville residents were invited to participate in guided walks through the dense forests of the Newlands, Success, Forecomers and Ravena area. Part of the urgent "Land for Auroville" campaign, the walks, organized by residents of Newlands, were perhaps more instrumental in raising the awareness of those who came that it was possible to transform eroded landscapes into beautiful, flourishing nature preserves.
Except for the deep canyon gully that still cuts through these lands, few reminders of past human and elemental ravages remain. With the lush tree and bush cover, the ecosystem in these areas has regained its health to a degree that the local fauna has begun to use the habitat for long-term purposes. The Indian porcupine, for example, has returned to the land after its restoration. Migratory birds of different types too have begun to frequent the forests. With the gradual silting up of the canyons certain types of foliage are finding hospitable terrain once again. Through intensive efforts in soil conservation, reforestation, and building of dams these lands are now sufficiently healthy to survive with a minimum level of maintenance.
Nevertheless, these nature preserves are still under threat from many quarters and therefore need to be consolidated. Plots of village lands that are scattered in the midst of these forests need to be bought as soon as they are put up for sale. With the Pondicherry government having built low-cost housing colonies too close to the Auroville greenbelt limits, unsustainable urban practices are resulting in unauthorized cutting of trees and killing of animals and birds crucial to the health of these forests. Of the six pairs of the Great Indian Horned Owl that had nested in the Forecomer canyon until now, only a couple of their offspring remain.
Stepping through the Newlands and Success forest was a source of joy for many of us. Above all, they served as living reminders of the dedication and love with which some individuals nurtured them for years and years. Symbols of our own evolving journey, they are worth conserving and protecting.

See also: Success

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