Stepping up awareness
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
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
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.