Bio-Diversity

Mangarbani

Posted by Susan Sharma on September 05, 2012

 
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Read the interesting piece about Mangarbani at the link
http://forbesindia.com/printcontent/32350


.... The spry-at-78 Arthur F. Bentley professor of political science at Indiana University, however, backs Mangar villagers and conservationists because she does believe in the durability of traditional community-based models of preserving and judiciously using common resources such as water, fisheries and forests. ......

Ostrom’s research is particularly important for India which is struggling to manage its commons, be it forests or water. Flashpoints are becoming frequent as demands of a burgeoning population and its development needs put pressure on common property. The 600-acre Mangarbani, for instance, falls within Faridabad’s new 20-year development plan that would allow construction and other projects in eco-sensitive areas. But what they fail to grasp is that the forests are crucial to the maintenance of an ecosystem that helps recharge the aquifers beneath the Aravalli hills. ......







Bio-Diversity

Mangarbani Virgin Forest, Gurgaon

Posted by Susan Sharma on September 01, 2012

 
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5km to the side of Gurgaon -Faridabad four lane road, driving through a thick forest of Vilayati Kekar trees interpersed with construction sites, you enter Mangarbani village (wrongly spelt Manger at the direction board on the main road).




The Art and Craft Hotel raises a few eyebrows just before we enter the village.  Builders are already in possession of Dream plans to convert the ancient village of Mangarbani into a "Tourist Paradise", the Hotel is probably waiting for those Dreams to take wings.


 Entrance to Mangarbani


At this sleepy village of about 300 hamlets we ask our way to the Bani.  As we reach Bani, the three soldiers from Mangarbani village who started the fight to save Mangarbani against seemingly odd barriers,  greet us.  We, a few friends who learnt about Mangarbani through the film "The Lost Forest",  had decided to devote the Sunday Morning to see the forest for ourselves. 


"Heavenly'" " So cool'" "Longest tailed peacock" "Beautiful bird sounds"  remarks kept coming as we walked. The residents pitched in with their knowledge of the Bani.  The first and last rule of the Bani " Do not pluck or cut anything from the Bani.  If you graze your animals inside, you raise the wrath of  Gudanya Baba  whose Samadhi in a cave is worshipped by the villagers.


 Broken Kadamb branch-Remove it at your peril!


 Here is an excerpt from the magazine "Down To Earth"


---What sets the Bani apart from the surrounding vegetation is that 95 per cent of it comprises a slow growing tree called Dhau (Anogeissus pendula). The tree has a unique feature. If it is nibbled by cattle, it spreads out on the ground or over rocks like thick prostrate undergrowth. If left undisturbed, it grows into a middle-sized tree. The 13-meter-tall dhaus in Mangar Bani testify to the forest’s antiquity, points out Pradip Krishen, the author of Trees of Delhi. ......


Sacred grove of Dhau trees seen from temple top


We saw Desi papri trees, Vat  and Dhok trees , Seetaphal trees and Kadamb trees which were fruiting and Dhau, the endemic tree of the area which were sprouting all over after the rains.



 Fruit of Kadamb tree


Sweet fruit of Seeta Phal tree



Dhau sprouting through rocks



Take the Dhau outside Mangarbani and they refuse to grow.  The Dhau is believed to be one large organism in Managrbani which propagates through root grown saplings only.  Untouched by the British ( The British never discovered this village tucked away in the interior, according to locals) and the Forest Department, Vilayati Keekar is absent in the village.  No bougainvillas and no lantana bushes are seen anywhere.      The Forest has remained natural as it was 3000 years ago.  A Natural Museum worth presrving for the next generation!




Under the shade of ancient trees


Mangarbani, a serene forest



Besides the Bani being the Preserve of fauna and flora endemic to the Aravalis (probably the only patch in Rajasthan-Haryana-Delhi, where Aravalis have survived in their original glory), this unspoilt forest is most likely responsible for water recharging and safeguarding water veins underground.  Destroy this vegetation cover, build on it and we could end up blocking/destroying any number of water veins under those impenetrable rock-systems.  

Gurgaon and Faridabad have seen Surajkund, Badkhal and Dumdama lakes disappear within the last 25-30 years, once vegetation in Aravalis was destroyed and hilllsides dug up for minerals/stones for construction and/or levelled for putting up buildings. The ban by the Supreme Court on all mining cant restore those water bodies, they are gone for ever.

Will the Gurgaon-Faridabad-Delhi residents let the unspoilt Aravalis in and around Manger Bani disappear? They could be destroying the most important water-recharge System/Preserve that could have sustained the coming generations by providing much needed elixir of life 'WATER'

SAVE THE ARAVALIS THAT WE STILL HAVE------REHABILITATING THEM MAY BE BEYOND ALL OF US. AFTER ALL THESE MOUNTAINS TOOK MILLIONS OF YEARS TO BECOME OUR BENEFICIARIES------


Listen to the young men from Mangarbani making an appeal

Bio-Diversity

Melissa officinalis-Leman Balm

Posted by Sheikh GULZAAR on February 20, 2012

 
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Bio-Diversity

The Gurukula Botanical Sanctuary

Posted by Susan Sharma on October 04, 2011

 
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The Gurukula Botanical Sanctuary is a forest garden in the Western Ghat mountains of Kerala, India, dedicated to conservation and education. This mountain system is bordered by the Arabian Sea on one side and vast arid areas on others. It supports a unique and endangered flora, and has been identified by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as one of the 25 centres of biodiversity in the world.

Founded in 1981, the Sanctuary is a garden of wild plant species grown at the edge of a large rainforest reserve. Our central intention is to restore endangered species and habitats in a highly fragmented landscape, in which only a fraction of original forest remains and much of the native flora is extracted for human use.

The Sanctuary is run by a small group of resident gardeners, naturalists and educators, and supported by a wide circle of well-wishers. Together we offer an approach that is connected to the climate, landscape, ecosystems, plants, animals and people of the Western Ghats.

The work at the Sanctuary includes:

  • Conservation of native (rainforest) plants.
  • Education and public outreach.
  • Developing horticultural and conservation skills in local young women.
  • Habitat restoration in degraded areas of the Western Ghats
  • Supporting recovery of natural forest within our lands.
  • Research in biodiversity and conservation.
  • Sustainable agriculture and integrated land use: growing the forest farm.
Read more at http://www.gbsanctuary.org/

Bio-Diversity

whale sharks

Posted by Susan Sharma on September 29, 2011

 
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Now, armed with latest technology and collaborations with whale shark experts from around the world, WTI with TCL’s support, is assisting the Gujarat Forest Department, to unravel the mysteries surrounding this fish.

“There must be something in the water of Gujarat that attracts them here,” says Manoj Matwal, Field Officer, WTI. “Perhaps it is the productivity which allows for flourishing of micro-organisms that predominantly make up the diet of this fish.”

Read more at the link

http://www.wti.org.in/current-news/110819_why_do_whale_sharks_visit_gujarat.html

Bio-Diversity

Vultures in our eco system

Posted by Susan Sharma on August 29, 2011

 
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Vultures in our eco system
"They process certain bacteria and fungi present in carcasses, which otherwise form spores when brought in contact with a healthy human or animal, and become almost immortal.  In the absence of vultures, dogs end up eating the dead animals and the bacteria spreads thereafter. " Dr. Vibhu Prakash

Here is a link to a comprehensive article on vultures in our eco system, which makes for fascinating reading

The title is "India's Vanishing Vultures" written by Meera Subramanian in the Virginia Quarterly Review

http://www.vqronline.org/articles/2011/spring/subramanian-vultures/

Bio-Diversity

Contribution of Pollinator-Mediated Crops to Nutrients in the Human Food Supply

Posted by Susan Sharma on August 22, 2011

 
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"The contribution of nutrients from animal pollinated world crops has not previously been evaluated as a biophysical measure for the value of pollination services. This study evaluates the nutritional composition of animal-pollinated world crops. We calculated pollinator dependent and independent proportions of different nutrients of world crops, employing FAO data for crop production, USDA data for nutritional composition, and pollinator dependency data according to Klein et al. (2007). Crop plants that depend fully or partially on animal pollinators contain more than 90% of vitamin C, the whole quantity of Lycopene and almost the full quantity of the antioxidants β-cryptoxanthin and β-tocopherol, the majority of the lipid, vitamin A and related carotenoids, calcium and fluoride, and a large portion of folic acid. Ongoing pollinator decline may thus exacerbate current difficulties of providing a nutritionally adequate diet for the global human population."

Citation: Eilers EJ, Kremen C, Smith Greenleaf S, Garber AK, Klein A-M (2011) Contribution of Pollinator-Mediated Crops to Nutrients in the Human Food Supply. PLoS ONE 6(6): e21363. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0021363

Read more at

#PLoS: Contribution of Pollinator-Mediated Crops to Nutrients in the Human Food Supply http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0021363

Bio-Diversity

10 New species of frogs!

Posted by Susan Sharma on August 06, 2011

 
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A team headed by Dr Anil Zachariah, a renowned scientist, has discovered 10 new species of frogs from the hill ranges of Southern Western Ghats with the help of Zoological Survey of India. 

“These findings show that Western Ghats, a biodiversity hotspot of the world still has many new species of amphibians,” Dr.Zachariah told Deccan Chronicle.

Read more at

http://www.deccanchronicle.com/channels/sci-tech/others/scientists-find-10-new-frog-species-952

Bio-Diversity

A victory for banning Endosulfan!

Posted by Susan Sharma on July 28, 2011

 
Forum Post
An accidental discovery by a farmer that red ants could replace the use of pesticide to contain the attack of tea mosquito bugs in cashew plants, has prompted the Kerala Government to refine the ant technolgy for larger field application. 
Entomolgy department of the Kerala Agricultural University in Kasargode has begun a three year project on the use of red ants in vegetable cultivation to do away with the use of pesticides to curb the insects. 
N. Vasavan, a small-scale farmer in the district, had brought back the ant- based biological pest control in his cashew plantation when the farm sector was heavily banking on pesticides.

Read more at

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/Kerala-farmer-uses-red-ants-to-fight-cashew-bugs/823890/

Bio-Diversity

BEEJ BACHAO ANDOLAN

Posted by Tulip Das on February 04, 2011

 
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The ‘Beej Bachao Andolan’ [BBA], begun in the late 1980s, is twenty five year old, led by farmer and social activist Vijay Jardhari. The Andolan started in the village Jardhargaon of district Tehri, Uttaranchal, famous for its unique movement to save the traditional seeds of the hills.

 

The ‘Beej Bachao Andolan’ [Save the Seed Movement or BBA] is not only a crusade to conserve traditional seeds but also to promote agriculture and local tradition.

 

A farmer and social activist, Vijay Jardhari realized that modern agriculture was destroying traditional farming. Crop yields of the high-yielding varieties in the modern agriculture were actually low; soil fertility was declining leading to an increasing dependence on toxic chemicals. Along with other activities of chipco movement, Jardhari formed the BBA to promote traditional agriculture and crop varieties.

 

In the valley of Ramasirain, Uttarkashi district, Farmers were growing a distinctive variety of red rice called chardhan. The rice was nutritious and suited to local requirements and conditions. Farmers also grew indigenous varieties like thapchini, jhumkiya, rikhwa and lal basmati. Agriculture here was untouched by modern practices and good yields were obtained without the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. What the farmers here were doing was avoiding monoculture in a method called baranaja [12 grains] that involves the multicropping of a no. Of cereals and legumes. This diversification is security against drought and crop failure. Different crops are harvested at different times of the year and ensure year-round supply of food. This also maintain soil fertility replenishes nitrogen.

 

Today BBA has about 150 varieties of paddy from which 100 different varieties can still be grown. BBA has also collected 170 varieties of rajma. Effective pest control is accomplished by using the leaves of the walnut and neem, and the application of the ash and cow’s urine. The use of traditional farming methods and seeds has resulted higher yields, improved health of humans and increased conservation of soil fertility and agro-biodiversity.

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