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‘Nature classrooms' in 125 colleges

Giji K. Raman



A biodiversity park will come up on the campus of Government College, Kattappana.

KATTAPPANA: Mahatma Gandhi University has launched a project to create and preserve biodiversity parks on the campuses of its 125 affiliated colleges.

This is arguably the first time that a university is developing such natural groves in such a scale, and the initiative has come in the International Year of Biodiversity.

The groves, highlighting the biodiversity of plants, will be created and preserved by the National Service Scheme (NSS), in association with Green Leaf, a non-governmental organisation engaged in planting and preserving trees in public places for the past two decades.

NSS coordinator K. Prakash told The Hindu that each park would come up on a minimum 10 cents (405 sq.m) of land. The project would be completed within three years.

The park will have select plants, including creepers, and a shallow rainwater pond in the middle. Small bamboo, a natural agent for preserving water sources, will cover the pond, providing a practical lesson to the NSS volunteers on water-source preservation.

Mr. Prakash said the parks would be a medium and message to the young generation on the vast biodiversity and endemic species. Through them, students were expected to develop an instinct to preserve the rich biodiversity of plants, some of which faced extinction.

He said the project had started in 12 colleges, with the groves already adorning MES College, Nedumkandam; John Paul Memorial College, Labbakkada; Government College, Kattappana; St. Dominic's College, Kanjirappally; Ettumanurappan College, Ettumanur; and Devaswom Board College, Pampa.

Ten-foot-high stumps, which grow faster than saplings, of select species are planted, Mr. Prakash said. The stumps cannot be destroyed as easily as saplings. Managements of most colleges have agreed to provide more than 10 cents, the minimum area fixed considering the availability of land in town campuses, he said.

Green Leaf is maintaining a main nursery for the biodiversity parks with over 50 species at Government Tribal School, Kattappana.

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