In collaboration with DCB Bank and Ladybird Environmental Consulting LLP, an outdoor butterfly observatory for a rural school in Jawhar was created in October 2018. To build the open-air butterfly observatory, 3,000 butterfly-attracting plant seedlings were planted on the school grounds. The only residential school for blind and children with special needs in Thane District was founded by Smt. Pramila Tai Kokad under the Shree Gurudev Sanstha and is the project site, Divya Vidyalaya, Jawhar. With review visits every six months, the project lasted three years, from September 2018 to September 2021. The project's plantation work was assigned to Ladybird Environmental Consulting LLP.
The butterfly observatory was created using an ecosystem approach, which aids in the creation of habitats that increase overall biodiversity by include the planting of trees, shrubs, herbs, and climbers. They are all planted together to serve as a breeding and feeding area for birds, small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, butterflies, and other insects. 25 plant species, including trees, shrubs, herbs, and climbers, were chosen for the plantations because they provide butterflies with nectar and food for their larvae. This assisted in transforming the space into a butterfly habitat that the students could use for their research and minor projects. In September 2018, following the addition of soil and manure to the ground beds to prepare the planting sites, 3,000 saplings were planted. 56 DCB Bank workers volunteered to help plant the saplings.
Every six months, a review of the plantation was done. The plants had grown well and begun to blossom when the first plantation review was done in March 2019. Furthermore, the environment had a good foundation. The area was bursting with vibrant blooms, and there were lots of birds, butterflies, and bees active there. However, it was discovered that 261 plant saplings were harmed. These saplings most likely failed to take root after being planted as part of an employee volunteer programme. The gardener quickly corrected the situation by transplanting and strengthening the saplings.
Up until March 2020, the saplings had developed well and had attracted many butterflies, with an 83% survival rate. The plants had outgrown themselves and began to regenerate on their own as well. Butterfly life cycles in their whole were also seen in the habitat.
But after that, because to the COVID Pandemic lockdown, the habitat suffered from a lack of upkeep, followed by a cyclone and a lot of rain. In October 2020, during the review visit, it was discovered that a sizable proportion of plants had perished. In order to make up for the mortality of saplings, the school began to prepare saplings from cuttings and seeds under our direction. Thus, in the third year of the initiative, the environment began to bloom once more and recovered. In September 2021, during the most recent review visit, 83% of the plants survived, and they were growing and blossoming beautifully.
During the course of the project, the formerly desolate area was transformed into an open-air butterfly observatory with 2,511 plants that houses 41 kinds of butterflies in addition to various insects, arachnids, birds, and reptiles. The habitat is well-established, enhancing the landscape's beauty and drawing several butterfly species to the flowers. In addition to the butterflies, birds and reptiles have begun to seek refuge in the area. There are now 41 species of butterflies in the area, up from 12 species previously. According to the principal, during the hot summer months, the planation began to have a cooling impact on the school building. Some plant species had already begun to regenerate on their own.
Being able to observe the students participating in the habitat and nature trails during the review visit in the first year was encouraging. The butterfly habitat has received excellent maintenance from the school.
Project Location: Maharashtra
Project Duration: Septmeber 2018- September 2021.
Project Partner: DCB Bank
Funding Agency: DCB Bank