ANGARIKE MAALA (Meadow of Dodonaea)LAND RESTORATION AND AGRO-BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION
Work on the land continues; the soil is being monitored for changes and improvement, earth works such as bunds are being constructed, tree saplings planted, and two rounds of cultivation are undertaken every year. The challenges of cultivating the land for food crops and growing trees without adequate rainfall or supplementary irrigation continue. The post-monsoon saw the land turn green and a number of wild flowers and creepers made their presence. But the failure of the returning monsoon saw a dip in the productivity of crops and subsequently the land turned brown and bare. We continue to engage with the vagaries of the weather and hope to turn Angarike Maala into an ecologically sustainable and economically viable demonstration site.
Five years since initiating restoration cum conservation work— is a turn-around year for Angarike Maala. The intermittent rains brought a host of newcomers to the land; mushrooms sprang up, as did a variety of creepers, flowers, shrubs and a multitude of grasses. The neem tree invited a small bee-hive and weaver birds wove their nests on the beautia tree. All-in-all a reassuring time for us, to see the land revive, express its wealth of local biodiversity, and show signs of encouragement to us. And, the most exciting was the yields of fruits: chikoos, pomegranate, papaya, passion fruit, and wit lemon, all in small quantities but which gave us immense pleasure.
We took some of the alumni from the Integrated Learning Course to see the land and they thrilled at seeing how the land has been transformed. A small film captures them on the land as they traverse the small ‘re-wilded’ area; now full of grasses, shrubs, trees, and visited by a variety of butterflies, birds, rabbits and an occasional wild boar or two.