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Tropical Dry Evergreen Forests

Auroville`s afforestation is in its third phase: the original indigenous evergreen species can thrive now. Saplings are sheltered by decidous trees, which could survive after pioneer tree species got a hold on the eroded, barren laterite. In view of changing weather pattern and a predicted warming of Southern India, planting evergreen indigenous forests is urgent for Auroville as well as the larger region.

A scientific botanical survey of the regional biodiversity has been recently conducted by a team led by Auroville`s Botanical Garden.

Background:  The Tropical Dry Evergreen Forest (TDEF) of South India is a unique ecosystem. It is made up of a complex group of over 400 woody species adapted to the lowest annual rainfall of any tropical dry evergreen forest in the world. This forest is home to a number of rare, or threatened species such as Hildegardia populifolia, Drypetes porteri and Pterocarpus marsupium. The widely distributed flowering and seeding times amongst the species also means that it is an excellent habitat for many animal and insect species, including important pollinators such as species of bee.

It is also the most endangered of all Indian forest types with less than 5% of its range, around 25,500 km2, with remnant vegetation. Additionally, less than 5% of these remnants are remaining in anything near to pristine condition as the majority of them are secondary forest regrowth areas, having been cleared in the previous century as woodlots. Further pressures on the TDEF is brought about as this area is both heavily populated and agriculturally intensive. Consequently, it is estimated that less than 0.1% of the forest can be considered as a functional ecosystem. This compares with Sri Lanka, where it is recorded that 37% of the dry evergreen forest range is protected.

To ensure the genetic heritage of the species of the TDEF it is proposed to assess each of the 400 woody species that are components of the forest type and for those that are considered to be in anyway vulnerable to collect the seeds and ensure in-situ and ex-situ populations are established in secure locations. For those species to be considered particularly at risk additional work will be undertaken to develop species recovery programs and to raise awareness within the conservation community and elsewhere about the needs to these species conservation.

The Auroville community has a long history of working to conserve this forest type, but more resources are required as the pressure on land and forest increases in India. Our goal at Funding Auroville is to raise funds and initiate projects that would help preserve, rejuvenate and expand the TDEF!

Please contact us via if you like to know more or actively engage on site, or with financial support.