The next time you happen to be around ITO, one of the busiest intersections in the National Capital as also the spot where the Air Quality Index (AQI) has always touched alarming levels, do not get intimidated at the sight of a forest around you. The urban forest, in the office park of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India on Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg, has been created as part of the government’s community responsibilities as well to keep a check on the ever-increasing AQI levels.
The dense forest ecosystem has been created in an area that is little over an acre and has shrubs, small to medium-size trees and tall trees arranged carefully as peripheral and core plant communities. Local material was adopted to enable intensive afforestation. The forest has been made of trees native to the area and are three dimensional, multi-layered communities having 30 times the surface area of the greenery of single-layered lawns, and have more than 30 times the ability to protect against natural disasters and to conserve the environment.
With minimal maintenance, including watering and de-weeding, the urban forest will be self-sustainable by October 2021. The urban forest has an ecosystem which has the capacity to restore habitat for birds, bees, butterflies and micro-fauna. These are essential for pollination of crops and fruits and to help maintain a balanced ecosystem.
The urban forest sends out an action-oriented message of bringing back lost environmental protection forests. In-depth field surveys of potential natural vegetation, well planned native species’ propagation and restoration projects like these are the need of the hour. The office of the CAG of India believes that initiatives like these will help us move towards a state of better ecological balance, especially in cities. It is a small yet significant contribution to Delhi’s ecosystem, one that could inspire people to reclaim and restore their natural surroundings.
Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar, while inaugurating the urban forest, said this would be a dense urban forest with multiple tree layers including 12,000 saplings of 59 indigenous species in another year or so. He appreciated that the Miyawaki method of forest creation is employed which could help in reducing the temperature by as much as 14 degrees and increase the moisture by more than 40%.
Rare native species planted here include Anogeissus pendula (Dhonk), Diospyros cordifolia (Bistendu), Ehretia laevis (chamrod), Wrightia tinctoria (Doodhi), Mitragyna parvifolia (Kaim), Butea monosperma (Palash), Prosopis cineraria (Khejri), Clerodendrum phlomidis(Arni), Grewia asiatica (Falsa), Phoenix sylvestris (Khajoor) and Helicteres isora (Marodphali). The species selected are part of Delhi’s potential natural vegetation and are best suited to the region’s terrain, climate and soil.