Conservation amid pandemic: Seed balls used in Aarey

Conservation amid coronavirus pandemic: Seed balls being used in Aarey

Saplings are planted during the monsoons. But in urban areas, conservation activities have taken a hit from the virus. Credit: DH PhotoSaplings are planted during the monsoons. But in urban areas, conservation activities have taken a hit from the virus. Credit: DH Photo

At a time when urban cities are struggling with the Covid-19 pandemic, conservation efforts too are facing challenges in the wake of physical distancing and health protocols.

But throwing of seed balls to plant trees seems to be a great, viable option.

For Shailesh Parte, who is involved in various conservation efforts, this was the best option - and he has launched the initiative in the Aarey Milk Colony, thw green lung of Mumbai.

"Saplings are planted during the monsoons. But in urban areas, conservation activities have taken a hit from the virus. In Aarey Colony we have started with 100 seed balls over this weekend. The plan is to use 10,000 seed balls," Parte told DH  on Sunday.

The seed balls comprise of soil, cow dung and have seeds of Indian yellow shower – bahava,  Peltophorum, Ashoka,  Raintree,  Chinch –Karanj and Gulmohar.

Parte said that his group is conducting these movements in tribal hamlets - Chafyacha Pada, Habal Pada and Vanicha  Pada where they have been running education centers for the last 8 years.

"We have also involved the locals in the initiative," he said.

Besides Parte, others in this group are Rasika Parte, Tushar Gaikar, Raju Bandhade, Pramila - and they are helped by Raju, a local villager.

"We would raise money through crowdfunding... Raju Dada has the necessary expertise," he said.

The Aarey Milk Colony is located in the fringes of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park.

The Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation planned the Metro Line 3 carshed in the Colony and the previous Devendra Fadnavis government hacked many trees for this project. However, after the Uddhav Thackeray government came to power they gave a temporary stay on the carshed project.

The Aarey Milk Colony has a total area of 3,160 acres of land owned by the Dairy Development Department of the Maharashtra Government. The colony houses 30 stables with a capacity to house 500 to 550 animals in each stable.

This area is a grass, scrub environ with a few hillocks, possessing two perennial and one seasonal pond as well as many seasonal streams in the area. The vast pastures of the Marutian Para grass are maintained and harvested as fodder for cattle. It is rich in biodiversity and leopards are often seen in the region.

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