see also: AvToday article
Once upon a time a young man and his family walked
Development of Shakti Nursery
The year was 1983, and that was the beginning of the Shakti Community and its nursery. There was no water, no electricity and no fence, and things were not too easy. Right from the start we were involved with nursery work. The first couple of years we cultivated mostly ornamental plants and trees for the many gardens in Auroville, but later we got more concerned about Auroville's indigenous forest. When we managed to get a 7-year funding for the conservation and propagation of the forest - the Tropical Dry Evergreen Forest (TDEF)- we switched almost exclusively to raising the specific TDEF species. The aim of the TDEF project is to entirely re-create the indigenous forest in the Green Belt area of Auroville.
In 1999 the Shakti nursery raised over 50,000 seedlings.
In I981, when still living in Aspiration, we published
Study of remnants of Tropical Forest
The next activity was the study of remnants of the
One of our aims is to build up a so-called 'Special Herbarium', a herbarium with a limited scope, the main purpose being to represent the TDEF project with collections from the remaining pockets of that type of forest over its entire geographical distribution area, as well as a representation of the invading flora in the disturbed, degraded and denuded areas. Collections are also required representing the various plant associations on the different soils encountered in the area of the TDEF, such as the beach, new and consolidated dunes, salt marshes, black cotton soils and others.
The very first collection for the Herbarium (AURO 5001) was made on the 5th of April 1994. Interestingly, as we discovered much later, this involved collection of a plant listed in the botanical literature as "very rare, probably extinct". It is a liana belonging to the Fabaceae family, Derris ovalifolia (Wight et Arn Benth.), found mainly in and around the Auroville plateau.
Botanical survey on Andaman Islands
We then got requested by an NGO, the Andaman & Nicobar Ecological Team (ANET), to carry out a botanical survey on some lesser known islands of the group. We did that for four consecutive years (1995 - 1998) and came home with a sizeable collection from those islands.
In the meantime we began accepting private collections
Last but not least, in the year 2000 Auroville acquired
50 acres of
In 2000 itself, about 5,000 specimens of evergreen trees and shrubs of the TDEF were planted in a stretch along the eastern side of the future garden. This year, at the next planting season, we will develop that part of the area where the arboretum has to come. For that purpose we already have 190 different tropical species ready in the Shakti nursery.
Walter and Tina
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