About the Aravali Oxy Van Forest
The degraded forest along the Delhi-Gurugram border on MG Road is a sad tale of neglect and abuse. Spanning a vast expanse of 180 acres, this once-lush woodland is now a shadow of its former self.
At the heart of the forest’s degradation is the significant dumping of construction waste and other forms of domestic waste. This has not only marred the landscape but also contaminated the soil and water, making it inhospitable for the native flora and fauna.
The once-flowing waters of a seasonal stream that fed into the Sahibi River have long since disappeared. The forest’s ability to serve as a catchment area and water recharge zone has been severely impacted by the relentless dumping of waste.
To add to the forest’s woes, alien invasive plant species like Prosopis Juliflora have taken over large swathes of the forest, further damaging the soil quality and exacerbating the ecological imbalance.
Illegal encroachments have only added to the forest’s degradation, with large areas of the forest now being used for unauthorised purposes. This has reduced the forest’s ability to recharge groundwater, leaving the surrounding communities vulnerable to water scarcity during dry spells.
The degradation of this forest has not only reduced its ability to protect against urban floods but also its potential to serve as a valuable ecosystem and a source of life for generations to come.
iamgurgaon’s revival of the Aravali Oxy Van Forest aims to build resilience against climate change, including extreme heat and rainfall fluctuations, by conserving and creating native Aravali species. The revival effort seeks to increase groundwater recharge capacity through the creation of wetlands, improving water security and providing flood protection. Visitors will be able to explore natural trails developed through adaptive building reuse and interpretation signages, offering an urban laboratory for education on biodiversity and forest sustainability. The revival of the forest also creates employment opportunities, contributing to the economic revitalisation of the region.
The infrastructure development in the Aravali Oxy Van Forest is built with a low energy and sustainable design ethos. The structures, such as the entrance, seating, and visitor’s centre, mimic the natural profile of the Aravalis using materials that are culturally and historically representative of the region, including quartzite rock, wood, and mud, with minimal use of steel. This approach not only lessens the ecological impact but also offers visitors an immersive and harmonious experience.
The next critical component of the revival project is the restoration of the waterbody in the area which includes restoring the degraded waterbody in the area by stabilising slopes and returning it to its former state. This involves clearing catchment areas and naturalising water channelization, capturing and recharging rainwater and stormwater, and stabilising slope edges through earthwork. The goal is to create a sustainable and resilient water system that supports the forest's health and diversity, ensuring the waterbody’s long-term stability and preventing further degradation.
Eco-Heritage Trails Development
The development of eco-heritage trails in the Aravali Oxy Van Forest transforms it into an open space resource accessible to all. The trails offer visitors a chance to experience the forest’s natural beauty and learn about its cultural and ecological significance. The accessible design and use of construction waste and topsoil from the site create a connection between the trails and the forest, emphasising conservation and sustainability. The trails become a vital part of the forest, demonstrating the importance of adaptive reuse and waste reduction.
Moreover, environmental education is a crucial aspect of this iamgurgaon project and interpretation and signage play a significant role in this effort. The aim is to engage visitors and educate them about the importance of preserving the forest and its biodiversity. In addition to educating visitors, the interpretation and signage elements also serve as a tool for community engagement and outreach.
The effort of ecological restoration aims to breathe new life into the degraded forest and its surroundings. The first step is to protect both the forest and its catchment area, a crucial component that ensures the forest’s health and longevity. The next step is to delineate the area and plant 100% native species, carefully chosen to thrive in the region and contribute to the rich biodiversity of the area.