Society for Conservation of Nature

A UNIQUE TREE PARK FOR CHENNAI

UNIQUE TREE PARK DEVELOPED IN CHENNAI

(Published in www.downtoearth.org.in Friday 31 August 2018)

Dr. Hugh Francis Clarke Glenhorn, the Surgeon turned Forester popularly known as ‘the Father of Scientific Forestry in India’ was responsible for establishing the Madras Forest Department in the year 1855. When the State was renamed as Tamil Nadu, it became Tamil Nadu Forest Department in 1969. The Research wing of the Forest Department was formed in the year 1918 and published its first Annual Research Report in 1919. The wing is active in doing detailed study and research on various thrust areas related to development of clones of useful tree species and agro-forestry models in addition to improving the biodiversity ensuring the water and food security. The Research Wing has 54 centres spread all over the seven agro-climatic zones of the state. As part of the centenary celebrations of the Research wing, the ‘Forest Genetic Resources Tree Park’ has been formed at Kolapakkam adjoining   the Arignar Anna Zoological Park located at Vandalur, Chennai. This has been formed as part of the move by the Tamil Nadu state Government’s efforts to save about 230 types of plants as announced by the then Chief minister J.Jayalalitha in the state assembly. She made a suo motu statement in the house proposing the park in order to ensure protection of forest genetic resources. The initiative of the then Chief minister has now given a shape and the   park is established spreading over an extent of 20 acres at Kolapakkam. The park has a collection of 300 tree species from both the Western and the Eastern Ghats. Well established trees of Syzygium cumini, Madhuca latifolia and Morinda tinctoria species have been transplanted in the park. Adina cordifolia, Aglaia barberi, Ailanthus triphysa, Berrya cordifolia, Bischofia javanica, Canarium strictum, Careya arborea, Chukrasia tabularis, Commiphora caudata, Cinnamomum verum, Cordia mixa, Crateva adansoni, Dalbergia latifolia, Dillenia indica,  Dysoxylon malabaricum, Diospyrus ebenum, Diospyrus montana, Garcinia gummi-gutta, Garcini spicata, Garuga pinnata, Gmelina arborea, Grewia tiliaefolia, Gyrocarpus jacquini, Hopea parviflora, Hydnocarpus pentandra, Mesua ferrea, Michelia chempaca, Mitragyna parviflora, Neolamarckia cadamba, Polyalthia fragrans, Premna serratifolia, Pterocarpus dalbergioides, Pterocarpus marsupium, Pterocarpus santalinus, Pterospermum diversifolium, Pterospermum suberifolium, Pittosporum tetraspermum, Santalum album, Saraca asoka, Sapindus trifoliatus, Semecarpus anacardium, Soymida fabrifuga, Strictus nux-vomica, Swietenia mahogani, Tectona grandis, Terminalia arjuna, Terminalia elliptica, Toona celiata, Vitex altissima, Xylia xylocarpa, etc., are some of the tree species assembled here. Each tree species has been provided with a hoarding containing the scientific and vernacular names and its commercial and medicinal uses. This is a kind of Gene Pool Garden formed under the ex-situ conservation (an assemblage of different floral species in a particular place from different regions) method. The park is located between the Vandalur Reserved Forest (RF) and the Nedunkundram lake. The rainwater drains from the Vandalur Reserved Forest into the lake through the park. Three checkdams have been built across the naturally formed canal that passes through the park. Thereby the water stored in the checkdams will be made use of for watering the tree species planted here besides improving the ground water level in the nearby areas. The interpretation centre constructed here may have displays of various rare, endangered and threatened tree species besides depicting the values of the trees and the ecosystem services what they provide for the benefit of all living organisms on earth.  The student community especially the natural science students may make use of this to enrich their knowledge on plants and other valuable biodiversity.

The artificial ‘U’ shaped island developed with tree grove and water flowing on either side will be highly impressive and may be more suitable for establishing the nursery. Seeds of some rare varieties of trees have been procured from the Kerala Forest Research Institute (KFRI), Peechi. Many tree species have been supplied by the Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka Forest Departments.

Rock Garden, Butterfly Garden, Children’s Garden, Arboretum, Bambusetum, Palmatum, Flower walk Garden, Medicinal Garden, Water Cascade, etc., will be added attraction to the visitors.

The Tree Park was inaugurated by the Minister of Forests, Dindigul C.Srinivasan on 16th of August, 2018. The taxonomically designed tree park is first of its kind and would be a haven   for researchers, naturalists and botanists. The entry will be free for children and Rs.5/ for adults and the fee collected will be used for maintaining the park in the future.