Wednesday, January 4, 2012


The last two days have been thrilling! On Tuesday we learned about the research going on at the Ecole Francaise de Etreme Oriente and in the evening we had talks from Joss Brooks, the director of the Pitchandikulam Forest which is part of Auroville--a sustainably envisioned community--and from Dr. N. Loganthan who is a Medicinal Healer/Botanist and 11th generation healer.

Joss has, with community members, reforested 100s of acres around their community from desertified conditions. What was once treeless, is now a forest--not an easy task. The heat here is tremendous, water is limited, and two large obstacles to overcome were finding seeds to plant and then germinating them.

This dilema led Joss and colleagues to the sacred groves of India where tampering and culling forest is forbidden. With seeds in hand and local knowledge, they were able to establish nurseries and restablish Tropical dry semi-deciduous forest! This is precisely the kind of work that is needed all over the world and a model system.

The sacred grove we visited is studied by Eliza and striking because it was significantly more 'modern' than I imagined. It is about 8 hectares with a road running though the middle to the temple. There is also electricity. The temple within the forest is highly regarded which means that it is at risk from humans...this is something I have also seen in Ethiopia, the more important a church/temple the more people visit and the more it is degraded.

I am fascinated by these forests and their ecological importance particularly in light of how they facilitate reforestation and preserve ecosystem processes (water purification, carbon storage, nutrient cycling, pollination). I wll be thinking about these forests for years!

1 comment:

  1. It has been just incredible to walk through these forests with such an expert in tree botany, and to deepen my own understanding of that side of these litle islands of biodiversity. It was painful to see the full extent of the destruction of the forests in Auroville, so patiently, skillfully and yes lovingly restored over the past forty years, in the wake of cyclone Thane. My heart goes out to the aurovillians, and residents of Tamil nadu digging their way out of all the damage. everyone lost something, and some have lost everything.