February 3, 2021 1:11:36 am
The Delhi cabinet Monday approved a plan to restore over 400 hectares of the Central Ridge, that is currently covered by an invasive tree species planted by the British in the 1930s.
The five-year revival plan intends to turn the ridge into a full-grown forest with indigenous plants and trees that will provide a recreational space for people in the heart of the city, forest department officials said.
The plan would be made possible with the removal of the vilayati kikar tree, or Prosopis juliflora, which allows no other species to thrive due to its weed-like properties — fast growth in arid conditions, depleting ground water and killing any competition.
Delhi University professor C R Babu of the Centre for Environmental Management of Degraded Ecosystems (CEMDE) will head the project with his team.
He told The Indian Express, “The challenge before us is to restore this 400-odd hectares, which is fragmented as it is crisscrossed by roads, and at the same time provide a recreational space that will add to the city’s aesthetics.”
Professor Babu said in the first stage, his team is planning to create a three-layer forest in 100 hectares of area along Sardar Patel Marg, which houses a number of five star hotels and foreign embassies.
This would involve planting a variety of native tree and plant species that will replace the vilayati kikar. The tree cannot be removed completely as the ridge is a notified reserved forest and, therefore, the plan is to remove a few branches to open space for sunlight to pass through. Native tree saplings and climbers will then be planted, which will grow and cover the canopy of the vilayati kikar, causing it to slowly die.
“We want to preserve the nature of the Aravallis and convert the Central Ridge into a unique place for everyone that is better than the Central Park in New York,” Professor Babu said.
Professor Babu said this conversion of the Ridge would invite more bird species and wildlife to return to it, including jackals and hyenas — whose sightings have gradually reduced.
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