IISc shows the way to tackle crisis

Step forward: Experimental forest patch brings up water level to 10 feet

IISc shows the way to tackle crisis


 Residents of T Dasarahalli and Bagalakunte waiting with empty pots at a public tap at Bagalkunte in Bangalore on Friday. DH photoWhile the Government cuts down trees to widen roads and cries over the depleting ground water table, the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) has shown that developing a mini forest with native species in its campus can actually reverse the depletion.

The mini forest on just two acres of land adjoining the Centre for Ecological Sciences (CES) has raised the water table to a depth of just 10 feet, a big jump from 200 feet deep.

The forest was developed in 1985 by Dr T V Ramachandra, Faculty and Senior Scientist, Energy and Wetland Department, and Harish Bhat, a researcher from CES. It was started as an experiment to study adaptability and succession of the Western Ghats plants in the City’s conditions.

Started on a parthenium and other weed inflicted patch, this mini forest now spreads across two acres and hosts over 40 species of Western Ghats plants and five local species. The forest stands as a counter to the City’s indiscriminate planning that has drained the ground water.

“Loss of green cover for road widening and construction of concrete structures has been mainly responsible for the depleting water level in the City. Our experiment establishes how tree cover can improve the water level,” said Dr Ramachandra.

The green cover in the City, including arboriculture, is necessary for percolation of water and ground water recharge. He pointed that creating such small forest patches and increasing tree cover will not only increase ground water level, but will also have an impact on the micro climate of the City.

“Our study on urban ecology has proved that places denuded of tree cover will be converted into heat islands and has put the ground water table into severe stress. But places, where tree cover is more, is comparatively cool,” he added,
IISc’s mini forest now hosts wetter forest species from Western Ghats including Mitragyna parviflora and Lophopetalum wightianum and moist species like Iiana Entada purshetha (a giant creeper found in both moist deciduous forest and western ghats).

“Surprisingly all these plants, both Western Ghats species and native species including a rattan variety (Calamus prasinus), which has rarely been reported of growing in drier areas have adapted very well and have yielded amazing results,” said Dr Ramachandra.
He added that through this research it has now been established that native species play a major role in holding water and increasing ground water table.

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