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Forest Park

The Forest Park is the focal point for our greening work. It is here that our restoration efforts have been most intensive and where the results are most visible. Here also is the nursery, and from the park, during rainy season, we spread out to the slopes of the Hill to carry out the planting work. Crucially, the Forest Park is a place where local people, especially children, can meet and begin to know the forests of the region.

The park covers around 15 acres at the foot of the Hill. This transition from the plains to the lower slopes is potentially a very rich habitat. Different species of birds and mammals use the shelter of the rocks and scrub of the lower slopes, then spread out to feed in the mosaic of farmland, scrub jungle and patches of thicker forest found on the flats. The ancient tanks and recently dug ponds provide year-round water, and the deeper soils and higher water table allow for a different type of forest to that found on the slopes. This habitat is also under great stress, as privately held land at the foot of the Hill gets converted from crops to building plots, squeezing the remaining wildlife and blocking passage to forest areas beyond the Hill. In this context the park, while small, provides a vital patch of edge habitat and is the last such patch of flat ground before the town begins. This habitat is further enriched by the presence of one of the major seasonal streams that flow from the hill. Depending on rainfall patterns, this stream flows for up to 6 months a year. Here we are able to restore a small ribbon of riparian forest, with its very distinctive and beautiful species makeup.

BorewellOur work on the slopes of the hill is extensive in nature, planting and protecting large areas and then letting nature take it's course. In the park however we are able to work more intensively, using gardening skills to help the forest back to health. We are also working with a view to creating maximum diversity of the plants native to the region within this relatively small area. Partly this is for it's own sake; diversity needs no justification. But it is also so that we can begin to understand for ourselves as much about the local plants and their needs as possible, so that we may put that understanding into wider use. And finally it is give visitors to the park the opportunity to meet as wide a range of the local flora as possible, that they may begin to know the richness of the region's forests.

BorewellBorewellFor this is a major function of the Forest Park; to facilitate meeting between the people of the area and the other life forms whose home this place is too. A few well laid out paths allow people to wander without disturbing the plants, benches by the ponds allow them to sit quietly and observe. Knowing that that not all of the wildlife may want to meet the visitors, local artist Kumar has been working for the last five years on an outdoor gallery of the wildlife of the hill and it's surrounds. Painted on large slate stones, these works are wonderful way to familiarise oneself with animals of the hill. There are also information boards, giving opportunity for further understanding. We have also nearly completed work on a building that will become a small natural history museum for the region, and an interpretation centre for the flora and fauna of the area. This will really augment the already rich education programmes that happen in the park.

The Forest park is contiguous with the Children's park and the Arboretum, making a substantial area of public land at the foot of the Hill that we have managed to protect for people and wildlife alike, from the all too powerful forces of 'development'.