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Pitchandikulum Forest

by Community Forests International on January 29, 2010

After an overnight train to Chenai (Madras), a bus to Pondicherry and a 4km walk, I have found myself, in a place called Auroville. My teacher, Rico had been telling me of this remarkable couple who had worked to build an amazing forest where arid nothingness had been. (You can check out a video with Rico  at www.vimeo.com/3760052 )  The story of Auroville is in itself quite interesting as well. It became a site for a universal community, based around the ashram of Shree Aurobindo and his spiritual partner, know as Mother. People came from all around in the late 60’s and began building a new community from the ground up. This couple is an absolute inspiration! Jos and Anita( along with a host of others) have rejuvenated what was arid sandy coast , into  the forest  it had historically been .

back of the bus 

They did it while helping build this new community and presently have a forest (Tropical Dry Evergreen Forest) which contains 500 species of indigenous plants (and their associated animals and organisms) in a forest type that is so endangered only  an estimated 500 acres of healthy forest remain in scattered areas.  Jos mentioned that one of the saving graces of the Tropical Dry Evergreen Forest (TDEF) was that these small pockets of indigenous forest had remained intact surrounding village temples.

Forest dwelling village protectors 

These pockets of heritage biodiversity were kept as sacred groves, where a local deity lived and rode out on horseback to protect the villages from evil during the night. Another important factor in helping protect the areas and build on these successes was the verbal knowledge of these plants/trees and their medicinal uses were still around. They used both of these to the forests advantage, and in the past 35+ years has turned this sandy coastal land into one of the most diverse pockets of endangered ecosystems going.  

Jos and a new restoration project 

Jos and company have been working through their NGO, Pitchandikulam Forest to promote renewable energy, biodiversity, and environmental education (to name a few). I have had the opportunity to work with Lourdes, Pitchandikulam Forests Education Coordinator on the Global Schools Link (GSL).  That is for the next post though….so stay tuned!

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