Migratory birds, arriving at the Mithi creek, will now have new places to roost. Around 500, 12-feet-tall ficus species trees are being planted along the Mithi creek at the Maharashtra Nature Park (MNP) in Dharavi.
According to Avinash Kubal, deputy director, MNP, more than 20 species of migratory birds visit the Mithi creek every year, which includes avocets, sandpipers and gulls.
“The idea is to build a canopy so that whenever migratory birds arrive at the creek, they will find a safe place to rest,” said Kubal.
Every weekend, around 200 National Service Scheme (NSS) student-members and 100 employees from eight corporate firms helped plant these trees, and so far, 350 trees have been planted.
Saplings would take several years to establish, so the ficus trees were specially ordered from a private nursery in Ahmednagar and they are four years old.
The project, where the trees are planted on a 4.5-acre portion of the 37-acre park, is mainly being coordinated by United Way of Mumbai, a non-profit organisation.
Experts said that planting trees at MNP comes with its set of unique challenges.
Created over a dumping ground, there is still large amounts of plastic garbage present in the lower layers of the soil. “The roots begin to coil as they can’t penetrate the plastic. To ensure that the roots go deeper, we have to use a different technique of planting trees at the park,” Kubal said.
Instead of digging one feet by one feet pits for trees like its done normally, park labourers have to dig a three feet by three feet pit and remove all the plastic lying underneath and the volunteers replace the entire soil present with garden soil.
“It takes 10-15 minutes for three people to plant a single tree. I planted more than 21 trees in 45 minutes and it was a great project because so many people from different backgrounds got down just so we can green a particular area on their day off. It was very inspiring to see working people and their commitment,” said Mansi Sankhe, a student from Sydenham College, Churchgate.
Student volunteers from Jai Hind College, Churchgate, Ruia College, Matunga, Guru Nanak College, Sion, Vidyalankar at Dadar, SIES College of Management, Nerul and College of Home Science, Nirmala Niketan at Churchgate were part of this project.Each tree costing around Rs 1,500, for digging, replacing soil and maintenance for two years, have been paid for by the corporates.
The next project is to create a safe roosting place among bamboos for smaller birds. The MNP officials have been raising bamboo sapling for two years in their nursery and will now plant around 500 of them for these birds, once the rain begins.