Pitchandikulam Forest was born in the early days of Auroville, out of a mission to restore the Tropical Dry Evergreen Forest (TDEF), the delicate and ecologically unique South Indian ecosysytem that once filled the entire Auroville plateau. When Auroville was founded, the original Tropical Dry Evergreen Forest had been decimated, only surviving in isolated patches thanks to the stewardship of local Hindu temples, and their practice of protecting sacred groves.
Reforestation forms a core part of our vision. Looking at Auroville today, it is hard to believe how complete the deforestation was during its infancy. Below is a short history, but you can find a more detailed account of the early days on the official Auroville website.
Reforestation – The Early Days
The first Aurovillian settlers in 1968 onwards found the land dry and desolate; prior to 1973 only a few scattered palm trees were found in the area and the traditional dryland farming of peanuts and pulses had degraded the soil, leaving deep eroded gullies. In that year, restoration processes were set in motion using green manures to rebuild the soil. Live fences were created to protect the land from goats and cows, and pioneer species of acacia, leucaena, gliricidia, and eucalyptus were planted to provide windbreaks and shade. At the same time seeds and other plant materials were introduced from nearby remnant patches of the almost extinct Tropical Dry Evergreen Forest, and nurseries were set up – which have been an essential focus of the Pitchandikulam community ever since. In the same year the first well was dug at Pitchandikulam and a bullock cart was used to water the young trees.
Reforesting Pitchandikulam – A Success Story
Today Pitchandikulam is a peaceful sanctuary, a self-generating, mature forest with a wide diversity of flora and fauna and more than 800 species of plants in the forest, grasslands and ethno-medicinal gardens. We are actively engaged in collecting and germinating seeds in our nursery, in order to help propagate endangered medicinal plants across our locations within the Auroville / Kazhuveli bioregion where reforesting TDEF projects have been set up.