The Aravali Biodiversity Park (ABDP) is a vibrant tribute to the rich and varied natural life that flourishes in the Aravali range. It represents the collective endeavour of citizens, the Municipal Corporation of Gurgaon, schools, and corporations to restore a lush, native forest to the heart of their city. Once a desolate mining site scarred by indiscriminate quarrying, this land had become a
wasteland, decimating the habitats of countless plant and animal species unique to the ancient Aravali mountains. But with concern and resolve, the people of Gurgaon rallied to reclaim and rejuvenate their precious forest.
iamgurgaon collaborated with the government and corporate entities of Gurgaon to establish an unprecedented public-private partnership aimed at revitalising 350 acres of land owned by the Municipal Corporation of Gurgaon. This ambitious project brought together diverse stakeholders to work towards a common goal - the creation of the Aravali Biodiversity Park which stands as a shining example of the positive impact that collective action can have on preserving and enhancing our
iamgurgaon successfully rallied a diverse group of more than 20000 individuals, including school children from 30 schools, Gurgaon’s civil society, and employees from over 70 corporates to come together to plant in large numbers at the park. The planting at the ABDP is managed mindfully, with only trees and shrubs native to the Aravali range being planted as they are best suited to the soil and climate of Gurgaon. To protect the saplings from being eaten by small animals, areas are fenced off and a dedicated water regime is followed to ensure the survival and longevity of the plants. Regular mulching helps insulate the soil from extreme temperatures and loss of moisture and also suppresses the growth of weeds.
The ABDP not only revives the natural forest cover of the city but also plays a significant role in the conservation and preservation of natural resources. The park is strictly free of harmful chemicals, promoting the use of composts and manures made from rotted leaves and farmyard manure. Only organic fertilisers and herbal pesticides are used for nutrient replenishment and pest and disease control. This approach not only benefits the environment but also promotes sustainable practices for the community.
Today, ABDP plays a vital role in the ecological well-being of Gurgaon, acting as a crucial carbon sequestration zone. The lush greenery of the park provides 7.1% of the total oxygen demand for the city which helps purify the air and combat pollution. Additionally, the park’s natural landscape serves as a powerful shield against flooding and aids in the recharge of groundwater. Besides enhancing,
ABDP also plays a critical role in preserving the health of the environment and the people who call Gurgaon home.
Innovative Water Management Strategy
The ABDP is a shining example of conscious water management. It utilises a gravity-based drip irrigation system to cover 3 major hills and an area of 75 acres, saving a staggering 4 million litres of water annually. This innovative system reduces the burden on the water table by harnessing multiple water sources, including grey water from sewage treatment plants. The park also features
two large ponds, created to restore the wetlands and designed to harvest every drop of rainwater, making the ABDP a vital water recharge zone for the city of Gurgaon. The park’s water strategy is not just about saving water but also about preserving the delicate balance of the ecosystem.
The Animal Life at the Park
The park offers a wide range of microclimates, vegetation structures, and habitats for a diverse array of birds, animals, and insects. The park’s rich biodiversity has been recognised by Ebird.com, a globally accepted online database created by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, where bird sightings are reported and tracked across the
globe. In ABDP, over 182 species of birds including rare sightings have been recorded making it one of the richest birding habitats in the Delhi-NCR region.
The park also provides a sanctuary for around 200 species of wild animals like nilgais, jackals, palm civets, porcupines, hares, snakes, lizards and skunks which are thriving in the park. The park’s rich ecosystem supports a wide variety of insects, including butterflies, moths, beetles, bugs, aphids, ants, and spiders, which are critical to the survival of the park’s animal and bird life.
The Plant Life at the Park
ABDP has become a shining model of ecological conservation, showcasing an abundance of plant life. The park harbours 300 species of native plants (trees, shrubs, herbs, climbers, grasses), 200 of which are rare and endangered flora of the northern Aravali.
Rewilding the Aravali Biodiversity Park involved the strategic planting of saplings of native plants in a diverse mix of species to create a thriving ecosystem. The Aravali range is home to a variety of forest types, including Salai (Boswellia Serrata) forests, Dhok (Anogeissus Pendula) forests, Dhak (Butea Monosperma) forests, Babool (Acacia Nilotica) forests, Phoenix Saccharum Savannas, and many others. A healthy forest is made up of not just trees but also under-storey trees, shrubs, climbers, herbs, grasses, and even epiphytes.
The goal was to plant over 200 different species. However, iamgurgaon faced a major challenge in finding the right diversity of native Aravali plants.
In 2011, iamgurgaon decided to take matters into our own hands and establish our own nursery within the park. This involved identifying and collecting native plants from the Aravali jungles. Such a
task required travelling far and deep into the Aravali from Delhi to Udaipur to collect ripe fruits. We faced many obstacles - dropped fruits could not be collected and some fruits were eaten by monkeys or blown away by the wind. From the fruits that we were able to collect, we dried out the fruits, collected the seeds, and sowed them in the nursery beds. Despite the lack of available literature, it took years of trial and error to master the art of germinating the seeds.
Today, the nursery at the park has been a very rewarding endeavour. In total, we have planted 175000 plants from the nursery for various projects and donated many more to public projects taken up by other organisations. Moreover, the nursery has been transformed into an Arboretum, a collection of rare plants where we have planted some of the rare trees found in the Aravali forests.