History of afforestation in Auroville
200 years ago the Auroville plateau was a scrub jungle, home to many plants and animals associated with the Tropical Dry Evergreen Forest ecosystem type. Increasing population pressure, overgrazing, and export of timber destroyed the forest, leaving the plateau barren. Removal of trees left the topsoil exposed to the sun and free to be washed away by monsoon rains. The topsoil was severely eroded in a short time.
The first Aurovilian settlers in the late 1960s undertook the initial re-greening of the land. They transported water overland, dug holes to plant trees, brought cart loads of compost from nearby villages, and established the first seedling nurseries. A variety of trees were planted and had to be well protected from livestock and from harvesting by people.
Water management was a key focus. Bunds, check-dams and catchment ponds were dug and constructed in order to catch and sink monsoon rain.
Afforestation techniques suitable to Auroville's land and circumstances were refined by trial and error. Foresters were concerned with shading and greening the land but also with speeding the process of ecological succession in the direction of a climax forest. Eventually tree species were selected for multiple characteristics such as drought resistance, fast growth, capacity for soil enrichment, and potential for yielding timber, fodder, fruit and green manure.
- Giordano, Ed. "Auroville's Afforestation Programme". Report of the Awareness Workshops for a Sustainable Future. Centre for Scientific Research, Auroville. 1992.