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.
Knowledge Partner: Ladybird Environmental Consultancy LLP
Funding Agency: DCB Bank Ltd.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Identifying the potential sites for plantation and connecting the canopies through ANR Method using Google Earth.