Monday, 23 June 2014

Lake to support Forest, Forest to support Lake - Military Green in Bangalore

“Lake to support Forest, Forest to support Lake” - Military Green in Bangalore

Do you know that the city of Bangalore has a thriving urban forest with over 50,000 trees? 

Army Supply Core (ASC) Centre
When you picnic above the city in the zooming Metro, you are sure to exclaim at what lies beneath. Sleek cars, shining malls, mushrooming apartment blocks some trees and the stray lake. Over the years, Bangalore has lost 29 sq km of green cover. A city that once boasted 18 native varieties of tamarind can now barely claim to six. Villages such as Devanahalli with groves of flowering trees like ‘nagalinga pushpa’ must now make their peace with flyovers, underpasses. No, this is no sob story about a city that’s gone to seed. This is actually the story of a thriving forest in the heart of the city, where 45,000 -50,000 trees stand tall.
Military Engineering Services - ASC Centre in east Bangalore has a campus of around 1000 acre. Annual rainwater potential from the campus is around 4000 Million Liter. Rainwater harvesting interventions are part of campus development. Three large open ponds, 30 Cement ring wells for accelerated recharge of ground water with Infiltration Trenches at various locations are part of RWH interventions.
Pond area in the midst of trees

At the Army ASC Centre on Old Airport Road near Domlur is ‘Sena Aranya’, an urban forest that has been quietly and efficiently playing the role of a ‘carbon sink’, giving Bangaloreans more than a lungful of fresh air!
Key players in this miracle include students in Bangalore, Tumkur and Kolar, their Botany teachers, organizations such as Eco Watch, the Karnataka State Council for Science & Technology, the Forest Department and - most important of all - the Army. Young jawans worked all day to green the area which they proudly call ‘Sena Aranya’.

Students plant saplings at the Army ASC Centre.
Seeds of a dream
The urban forest, funded by the Indo-Norwegian Environment Programme (INEP), was a project to show the viability and usefulness of creating ‘carbon sinks’ in bustling cities, where trees are cut and open areas concreted.
The additional focus at ‘Sena Aranya’ was to grow trees native to Bangalore. Volunteers from Eco Watch visited forests in Tumkur, Kolar and Bagalore Rural districts.
They roped in high school and college students who were happy to scour the forests with their Botany teachers to find, tag and transplant native plants. Seed and sapling collection centers were set up in each of these districts.
The seedlings were brought to the ASC Centre, where they were planted. More than 75 species, such as local fig, banyan, jackfruit and tamarind, were identified and nourished, first in a nursery, and then transplanted in the field, and tagged.
Today, ‘Sena Aranya’ has close to 50,000 trees.

Students identifying local tree varieties for planting

Kingfisher’s flight
Film maker and founder of Eco Watch, Suresh Heblikar, says: “Procuring the saplings was the biggest challenge. We wanted only plant species that thrive in the southern dry zone, so we went into the history of Bangalore’s vegetation 300 years ago.”
Community participation was the key to the success of ‘Sena Aranya’. “Student participation was phenomenal. So phenomenal that we set up bio parks in Kolar and Tumkur with all the seedlings and saplings we had after ‘Sena Aranya’, a three-year project, was completed.”
All the trees at ‘Sena Aranya’ - barring the Singapore cherry which was planted because it flowers quickly and attracts birds are native to Bangalore. “When we sighted the first kingfisher at the lake, we were ecstatic! A Scientist from IISc told us there are 35 species of butterflies here. Army jawans said they even saw a huge snake devouring a small hare! Oh, such news really thrilled us.

Green Teachers
As part of the urban forestry project, Eco Watch conducted 70-80 teachers’ training sessions called Green Teachers Workshops’ covering 100 schools in Tumkur, Kolar and Bangalore. They in turn started teaching students about the importance of bio diversity.
If you do not destroy trees, you don’t have to worry about rainwater harvesting. Trees store water, they transmit water through the ground and they feed lakes and ponds. Students must be sensitized to this because Bangalore has lost 29 sq km of green cover. Bangalore’s topography was such that any amount of rain that pounded the city was absorbed by the trees. But now, we have flooding.

“More trees More water, more and more Eco-Friendly benefit to Bangaloreans”

Growing trees in ASC Centre

Grown up trees in urban forest

Storm water being harvested

RWH in buildings of ASC centre

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Mr Shivakumar has several publications and significant number of patents, which are under commercial exploitation to benefit the society. His research experience spans over several fields and areas in applied sciences. He has a "National Award" to his credit, awarded by the Union Government of India in the year 2001 for one of his innovations. He was awarded the "Citizen Extraordinary" by Rotary International in the year 2007. The First Innovation award "Ammulya 2012" for two of his patents was awarded by Government of Karnataka in addition to other state awards and recognitions.