Community Collaboration: Pune’s Ambitious Plan for Forest Restoration

In a significant ecological initiative, the Pune division of the forest department is set to plant 625 trees per hectare on forest land and 1,100 trees on degraded land, beginning this monsoon season. This ambitious project will see around 700 hectares in Saswad, Vadgaon, and Dindori redeveloped with a diverse array of plant species over the next seven years.

Project Overview

The forest department has signed a tri-party agreement with five or six groups to undertake this extensive tree plantation. The revised plan, approved in April 2023, includes the planting of grass, tall trees, bushes, and plants, ensuring a balanced ecosystem. This initiative is part of the department’s 2023 working plan, which spans ten years and focuses on the redevelopment of forest land across the Pune division.

Revised Plantation Strategy

An official from the forest department stated, “We previously worked on a 5-hectare plot of land in different parts of the city. The head office has now accepted the revised plan, which calls for the planting of tall trees, bamboo, herbs, and shrubs in two stages over three years. We understood that only planting trees would not be sufficient; in addition, we must take into account all other factors.”

Addressing Invasive Species

In past efforts, the department planted gliricidia trees to improve soil quality due to their nitrogen fixation capability. However, the invasive nature of gliricidia has hindered the growth of other native trees. Recognizing this, the new plan includes the removal of gliricidia trees and the replantation of indigenous species such as tall trees and bamboo shoots, promoting biodiversity and a healthier ecosystem.

Public Involvement and Ecological Balance

The previous plantation’s success paved the way for this large-scale forest area drive. Unlike the previous restriction of 5 hectares, the current initiative allows for the redevelopment of larger areas. However, the removal of gliricidia trees has drawn some public criticism. To address this, the forest department is collaborating with multiple groups to ensure citizen participation and transparency in the process.

Future Plans

The comprehensive plan ensures the restoration of forest land by incorporating diverse plant species and maintaining ecological balance. With around 700 hectares of land in Saswad, Vadgaon, and Dindori earmarked for redevelopment, the forest department aims to create a sustainable and thriving green cover.

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