Bondri hill in the Shahpur division is the perfect example for ‘before-after.’
A picture that was taken before 2017 is quite different from the one taken now. This hill is now a green haven for birds, hosting plenty of biodiversities. A five-hour drive, 180kms from Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh leads you to this green haven.
Just three years ago, the story of this hill was quite different. The hill was little more than a barren mound. But all of that has changed, thanks to the efforts of the Forest department who planted 54,000 saplings in a single day! That’s right, a single day!
Bondri hill is located within the Forest Office of the North Betul division. “We had a target of planting this many trees to meet the plantation targets. It stretched across 49 hectares of the hill,” said Punit Goyal the Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) about his plans.
The plantation was done under the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA). The activity aims to promote afforestation and regeneration of the environment to compensate for forest land given up for non-forest use.
Punit, who led the effort for the uphill task, says, “We had to meet the targets, and we could not afford missing them. But not only there were administrative challenges, but the place also had geographic demands,”
The team included an officer along with one deputy forest ranger, two forest guards, and 1,000 laborers, all of whom were planting varieties of bamboo and teak.
The terrain made it very difficult for the plants to survive. “We tried other species before, but the survival rate was too low. Bamboo and teak are resilient in hard rocky terrain,” Punit added. There are also Sheesham and Karanj trees in fewer numbers.
The monitoring and maintenance of the trees were carried out by two presiding officers.
Over the last three years, the drive has brought visible ecological and social impact, the department claimed. “The soil erosion of the hill has reduced dramatically as the roots hold the soil. The other immediate benefit observed is that rainwater is retained and is being harvested in the ground,” Punit said.
In addition to recharging the groundwater resources and improving the soil, the officer said the thousands of trees have helped in carbon neutralization and mitigating CO2 emissions.
Speaking about the sociological impact, Punit said the project provided livelihood in a remote area for the locals, who can use the bamboo for commercial purposes.
Gaurav Sharma, DFO, Panna in Madhya Pradesh said that he was surprised to see such a good outcome about the project. “I visited the site three years ago during the training when it was barren. It is indeed a spectacular view to look at the transformation happening after so many efforts,” he added.