2022- Ongoing

Project Krishna Leela (Rewilding)

Neemrana, Alwar, Rajasthan

Key details

About the project

2022- Ongoing

Project Krishna Leela (Rewilding)

Neemrana, Alwar, Rajasthan

Key details

Aim of the restoration project

To create a protocol for how to make a ‘restored landscape’ behind NIIT University’s Neemrana campus, which can be replicated to Rewild the entire parcel of land under the University’s stewardship. We aim to train the University’s horticulture team in seed collection, working with native plants, raising a nursery, planting, maintenance, etc.

What was the condition of the land before restoration? And what are the past and current disturbances?

The landscape is an expanse of rocky hills and sand dunes. We’ve chosen one of each, in order to show how it’s different to work in both kinds of soil. The rocky hills are a part of the Aravallis, and the sand dunes formed when sand-laden winds blowing from the West were obstructed by the hills and droppe’ the sand they were carrying at the base of the hills.

The land is degraded, mainly because of excessive grazing by goats and cattle. A portion of the rocky part of the larger landscape is dominated by Prosopis juliflora, an invasive species from South America. There are only 4-5 species of native trees on the land, a few species of grasses and shrubs, but most of the land is quite bare. NIIT University, over the last few years, has taken the initiative to plant lots of trees, but they have mostly planted thirsty species that require irrigation and constant care. They have also been inadvertently ‘weeding’ out native species from their plantation site, adding to the degradation of this overgrazed, overharvested site.

Past and current disturbances
– Excessive grazing
– Dominance of Prosopis juliflora in some parts of the rocky hills, and the presence of a few trees of Acacia tortilis in the sand dunes
– Plantation of exotic species by NIIT with drip irrigation pipes laid over a large swathe of land, in addition to their weeding out of native species from the site.

What are the restoration activities that were/are being carried out?

  • Removing invasive species like Verbesina encelioides, Parthenium, Acacia tortilis and Prosopis juliflora
  • Seed collection of native trees and shrubs, annual wildflowers, grasses and other herbaceous plants
  • Creating an in-situ nursery of native trees and shrubs
  • Pit digging for trees and shrubs
  • Monitoring the health of plants and how they respond to different pit depths and soil mixtures.
  • Training the local team in all aspects of native plant gardening: Identifying plants, seed collection and propagation, plant care and maintenance, plant protection etc.
  • Creating a walking trail through the landscape to prevent soil disturbance

Area of the project

The larger landscape under the University’s stewardship is over 200 acres. We’ve begun working on about 2 acres, and plan to expand gradually every year to cover a larger area.

Location

Neemrana, Alwar, Rajasthan

Altitude

325- 396 m

Annual rainfall

450 mm

Temperature

4°C to 45°C

About the project

This project began in early 2022 when NIIT University (NU) invited Pradip Krishen to help them restore a large swathe of village common land adjacent to the campus. The landscape comprises wind-swept sand dunes abutting the eastern face of a slate-ey group of Aravalli Hills. NU had already been trying to ‘green’ the area by planting lots of trees. They use an elaborate system of tanks and drip-irrigation pipes to keep these inappropriate trees alive. Pradip suggested that we begin restoration in small sections of both sandy and rocky areas so that we can train the local team and show them what’s possible with native plants. NIIT agreed to this.
The project began in March’22. Since then we’ve done a preliminary survey of the vegetation, started collecting seed; set up our nursery; dug pits and are readying to plant up our first two sites this monsoon. We hope these will serve as ‘models’ that the local team can use to restore the rest of the landscape. Since this is a village common land that’s used for grazing, it should be interesting to see how we protect our plants until they establish and whether we can institute a system of rotational grazing in dialogue with the locals.


Get in touch

Team: Pradip Krishen
Somil Daga, Parul Daga, Fazal Rashid
Address: NIIT UNIVERSITY CAMPUS: Neemrana, NH-8, Delhi Jaipur Highway, District Alwar, Rajasthan – 301705
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

1 Comment
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Bijal
Bijal
7 months ago

Very involving but necessary to undertake. Locals are getting the concept,planting native jati is a sure step.