Natural regeneration is a biological process that can be assisted and managed to increase forest cover and associated ecosystem services. Assisted Natural Regeneration (ANR) is a simple, low-cost restoration method that can effectively enhance the productivity and ecosystem functions of deforested or degraded lands. The method aims to accelerate, rather than replace, natural successional processes by removing or reducing barriers to natural regeneration such as soil degradation, competition with weedy species, and recurring disturbances.
Sanjay Gandhi National Park was selected for ANR interventions as the park is grappling with encroachment throughout its boundary which resulted in a loss of tree cover. The park is situated partly in Thane District and (59.24 Sq.Km.) and in Mumbai Suburban District (44.44 Sq.Km.) of Maharashtra State. Khindipada, the eastern end of SGNP for this project was chosen for the interventions.
The site is largely a dry deciduous habitat with undulating terrain. Its habitat is largely fragmented towards the boundary side which is surrounded by various hutment colonies. The habitat is largely dominated by Palmyra Palms which is intersected with various seasonal streams. Several open patches resulted in a fragmented canopy cover. Fragmented patches form numerous canopy gaps. Disturbed canopy cover impacts the understorey and affects the biota thriving on the forest floor.
The habitat is devoid of perennial undergrowth therefore the land is largely exposed. As the forest dept, is keen to increase the green cover throughout the park range, this could be a potential site where the ANR process could be utilised to improve the ground cover or understorey as well as the local biodiversity. Before initiation of the project, the potential sites were surveyed in the area wherein the plantation can carry out to enhance the local biodiversity.
Project Location: Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Mulund, Mumbai, Maharashtra
Project Duration: April 2021 - March 2023
Project Partner: Borivali Forest Dept. and iNaturewatch Foundation
Funding Agency: DCB Bank Ltd.
From October to December 2023, the restoration efforts showcased ongoing activities: repairing tree guards and fences damaged by wildlife, targeted de-weeding, and the inception of stone-lined pathways. Continuous repair work, coupled with efforts to secure permissions for signage installation, persisted. Regular tasks included watering nursery saplings and removing invasive Siam weed. Major activities involved de-weeding with hired labor, pathway construction, invasive species removal, waste disposal, road repairs, and successful engagements with forest department officials. Sustaining the site involved ongoing maintenance, including the installation and refilling of water bowls. Engaging the local community was evident through events like nature trails and bird feeder-making workshop, fostering community involvement in the project's vision. Furthermore, we organized various nature trails and corporate activities in the park, fostering a deeper connection between people and nature while promoting environmental awareness and conservation.
During this quarter, our dedicated efforts to support pollinators in our meticulously designed seven pollinator zones yielded promising results. The prominent presence of butterflies, various bee species, and moths in these zones underscores the success of our initiatives. In addition to our pollinator-focused work, we were thrilled to witness a significant increase in the presence of Spotted deer in the vicinity of our Deer browsing zones. This is a testament to the positive impact of our conservation efforts.
Apart from our plantation activities, we extended our support to existing trees, especially those growing along the forest edges, by implementing mulching and ring weeding practices. The regular maintenance of tree guards and fence guards in the pollinator zones and deer browsing areas became crucial due to the occasional damage caused by wild animals and vandalism. Furthermore, we organized various nature trails and corporate activities in the park, fostering a deeper connection between people and nature while promoting environmental awareness and conservation.
Over the past three months, caretakers were busy watering plants and repairing fences damaged by wild animals and wind. Demarcating sites where tree saplings died started on 30th March. In the nursery, 64 saplings are growing well. Repair work was completed on 21st April, and 160 wild climber seeds were collected on 25th April. Mulching was done by 30th April.
Seeds of Crab's eye creeper were collected and 200 sapling bags made. Likewise, 50 sapling bags of Touch me not were prepared. Pits were dug starting on 8th May, and two laborers were hired. The 1180 nursery saplings are thriving. Fences were repaired from 12th June. Plants in the nursery are doing well, including 91 Palas, 17 Karanj, 15 Crab's eye creeper, 22 Combretum, 51 Touch me not, and 5 Monkey biscuit saplings.
1,556 plant seedlings were stocked on 20th June for compensatory plantations. Two hundred Karvanda seedlings were planted. On 20th and 21st June, 250 Karvanda saplings were planted, followed by 60 vetiver and 176 Bamboo saplings on 25th, 26th, and 27th June.
The tribal population is known as the indigenous population in India. Our organisation decided to survey the tribal population near Sanjay Gandhi National Park by developing a questionnaire for each home's female and male occupants and determining the extent of their reliance on the forest.There were 19 responses to our survey. Approximately 70% of the people living near the national park are tribal members, while the other 30% are not.The forest is their primary source of income, according to 16 of the 19 responses we've received. The forest supports approximately 84.2% of the population, with 57.9% earning a living selling wood logs and forest products and 26.3% selling fish. They also use firewood as a backup source of energy for daily tasks like boiling water and meal preparation. 63.2 percent of them are familiar with the iNaturewatch Foundation's plantation and are eager to work with us on this initiative. Our goal is to determine the percentage of tribal communities that still rely solely on forest resources. We intend to offer jobs and employment as a result of this project in the future.
In the past three month:caretakers were busy repairing tree guards and watering saplings in the nursery, where 64 saplings were growing well. The Plantation review for the quarter, bird survey, plant survey and a Socio-economic survey were completed, covering 19 houses. Removal of invasive species was also completed. To safeguard the saplings from forest fires, fireline work was created by 5 laborers. Seed collection of native wild trees was also done, collecting 324 seeds of Karanj, 6 pods of khulkhula, 36 pods of copper pod, 500+ seeds of vavla, 250+ seeds of sissoo, 39 seeds of Mimosa, and 127 pods of Palash. Building of contour bunds to check soil erosion was completed, and plastic waste was collected at the plantation site, with a total of 7kg of waste, including plastic bottles and plastic bags.
In the past three months, the caretakers repaired damaged tree guards, and a drone shoot took place at the site on October 15. The following week, repairs and de-weeding were performed, and watering of the plants began in November due to the risk of drying out. Overgrown grasses were cut down to prevent forest fires. Mulching and road maintenance were performed in the third week of November. Daily watering of the plants began using tanker water in the final week of November. The caretakers added a mixture of compost, cocopeat, and neem powder to the seedlings. We conducted three activity: a volunteering activity of de-weeding and two nature walk for students.
Over the past three months during the monsoon season, plantation and composting efforts resulted in sapling development, despite damage caused by deer. Caretakers regularly repaired tree guards and added compost. In July, biodiversity surveys and a video shoot were conducted. In late July, 166 saplings of 12 species were planted, and tree guards were repaired. In September, tree guards were repaired, bird surveys were conducted, and saplings were planted in deer browse and pollinator zones. A plantation review was completed, and on-site maintenance was done due to intense weather.
The project's first quarter of 2022 has been very demanding. Protecting the plants from the arid summers presented us with difficult tasks. We were unable to water the plants on a regular basis from April to May due to the municipal work being done outside the park gate, which caused some plants to suffer. However, despite the extreme weather, we continually work to protect and keep an eye on the saplings. For optimal growth, compost and soil mixture were applied to the plants. Additionally, tree guards were frequently inspected for damage and fixed or replaced as necessary. For their hard work both on and off the field, our entire staff is appreciated. Without the ongoing assistance and direction from the Forest Department and DCB Bank, we could not have accomplished any of these. As a result, we are appreciative of DCB Bank and the entire forest department staff.
From January to March we have been working hard to prepare our plants for the summer heat, as summer is the most sensitive season for plants. Therefore we conducted mulching in late February for all of our plants through volunteering activities and with the help of our caretakers, of course! So that the area around the plants can retain moisture for a longer duration. Alongside we also cleared the site of unwanted grass so as to prevent fire. Provision for water has also been a task, but we have somehow prepared our site to embrace the summer heat. It's been quite a task but we have come through.
In the past three months, we did plantation review, soil testing, pathway making, tank installation. We also carried out community engagement programmes for activities such as tree guard making, and mulching. which helped the plants in water retention during the dry months. we did ground digging work to safeguard, our water tanks, we also made a tweak to our original plan by dropping the drip irrigation or borewell work, as it wasn't a sustainable option for the given land. instead we are now watering plants with the help of tankers, for whom we had to dig up a path to make way for them. It's been a tough call, but our caretakers have been taking good care of our plants and the site.
During this period, We planted 7840 saplings at the site for enrichment plantation. In enrichment plantation we developed pollinator zones, deer browse zones and did canopy plugging to join the fragmented canopy of the area. We also did plantation around Palm 50 trees. During the biodiversity survey we recorded a total of 144 species. 55 species of plants and fungi, 48 species of insects and other arthropods, 1 species of amphibian, 7 species of reptiles, 30 species of birds and 8 species of mammals. We conducted six volunteering programmes in which 23 volunteers participated in different activities like Tree tagging and tree counting, Plantation in Palm Ring, Marking plots and so on.
Under this project we selected the barren and rocky site at the Sanjay Gandhi National Park for restoring forest landscape through Assisted Natural Regeneration (ANR) method. The project is funded by DCB Bank and the area comes under the jurisdiction of Forest Department. The Project duration is three years. During last quarter period, we carried out the baseline survey, enrichment plantation, biodiversity survey, ground water survey for borewell digging and community engagement programmes.
Identifying the potential sites for plantation and connecting the canopies through ANR Method using Google Earth.