The Green Phoenix

How do we listen to the land, to the natural world, and how do we work in such a way that the land is better for our presence? This is the core concern of the Green Phoenix, an informal group of ecosystem gardeners dedicated to ecological renewal based on "land as a living unity".

The rubric "Green Phoenix": evocative of resurgent natural vegetation in areas of degradation, involving active participation through ecosystem gardening as well as the 3 R's of Restoration practice.

Our hope is that this will grow into a decentralized movement (or membership) based on consultative community participation.

Who We Are: Vattakanal Conservation Trust in the Palni Hils, The Forest Way Trust in the Eastern Ghats, and Pradip Krishen (author of Trees of Delhi: A field guide, and ecologist responsible for Rao Jodha Desert Rock Park), and the Gurukula Botanical Sanctuary.
The Forest Way Trust
Vattakanal Conservation Trust
Raojodha Park

PDF on Rao Jodha Park.
PDF on Restoration in the Palni Hills.
PDF on Restoration of Arunachala by the Forest Way Trust.

The idea: a helpline for habitat restoration, both online and actual.

The rationale: All through the Western Ghats plantations, settlements, farms, resorts and hydroelectric projects have replaced most of the forests, resulting in rampant species erosion, habitat loss and landscape level transformation. As the forested mountains form the headwaters of the watershed for the entire southern portion of the subcontinent, and there is a direct connection between forests and water supply, there are major implications for human and non human communities all over the south from ongoing forest degradation. Moreover, as extractive pressure on wild species increase and the slew of anthropogenic pressures mount, the collapse of ecosystem function and structure loom up with frightening pace.

Restoration ecology (including ex-situ conservation) presents alternatives in this context, that we must now deliberate over and consciously implement. This depends on what we value and what we wish our landscapes to be. Do we choose wattle over grassland? Coffee over forest? When 90% of the Western Ghats is degraded or under exotic industrial plantation, what will areas recover to when left alone? What is the ideal that we can work towards? As an integral part of a larger comprehensive strategy, ecosystem gardening is one way to support species and habitats.

The possibility: Every year we get many requests, mostly from the region, but also from around India and elsewhere, for advice on land care, ecological restoration, ecological gardening, wildlife monitoring and so on. We get requests from individuals in cities and rural areas, planters, panchayats, forest officials, schools, resorts, corporates, colleges, NGOs, nature clubs, name it!

We tend to just talk to each of these people in detail, once we get a sense that their intentions are serious, but this is tricky if we cannot picture their land.

How do we do justice to these interests and how do we work together? More important, how can we be effective? What do we need to know to help a newcomer to restoration?

Thus was born the idea of an online questionnaire to initiate a mutually beneficial engagement.

If you are interested in habitat restoration on a specific piece of land in the Western Ghats, the Eastern Ghats or Central and Western India, please fill this form below. It will take some time for us to respond, but we will get back to you.

Show Form for Land Care

If you'd like to be a member of green phoenix and/or have your work represented on this website, please fill out the form below
Show Green phoenix Membership form

Here are some guidelines to help you decide if you want to be a member.

Long term vision:

There are three principles GP members would have to consider:
  1. maximising biodiversity
  2. recovering ecosystem processes.
  3. inclusion of human needs in such a way that the natural world benefits.

A long term strategy would include the following :
  1. Protection of standing forest/natural habitat
  2. Natural forest recovery in degraded areas
  3. Gardening / farming "in nature's image" ; permaculture, perennial polycultures, agroforestry
  4. Pledging of yourself to the land, in posterity, for the above

Basic choices people need to make :
  1. from mono to poly-culture
  2. from annual to perennial
  3. from chemical to organic
  4. from exotic to native
  5. from pure extraction to supporting ecosystem recovery

In time we hope, the Green Phoenix page could feature other efforts underway. In time we will host a map to show the corridor of greening, or the stepping stones of restoration, to use another metaphor. For example; Rishi Valley School in Andhra Pradesh has been steadily involved in land restoration for several decades Centre for Learning, a school outside Bangalore has done a great combination of leaving-alone and nursery based planting. Both schools are also concerned with growing their own food crops, and students are involved in land restoration and cultivation.

Auroville in Pondicherry, Vanastree in Karnataka, the Timbaktu Collective in Andhra Pradesh, Nature Conservation Foundation in Anamalais and a few other inspiring examples.

It is crucial to note, that a lot of what is proposed here is in the footsteps of indigenous and traditional peoples whose very lifestyle ensures the conservation and renewal of nature. In fact, the only sustainable way of life, or ways of life, that have been in place for more than 10,000 years, are those of indigenous communities, who themselves are being annihilated.

If you really want to support nature and live a sustainable life, learn from the indigenous people around you. We hope to carry something about our Paniya and Kurchiya neighbours soon in this website, as well as traditional farmers of Kerala whose astonishing horticultural abilities manifest in rich, diverse and ecologically sound home gardens. Resurgent nature requires such wisdom on our part as human inhabitants of the land.

For now please inform yourselves about adivasis and forest conservation in India in

Read about the removal of exotic species in Mukurthi National Park. Much of this is happening based on the Sanctuary's survey and study recommendations, and we expect to continue with this effort in the years to come, with a view to increasing areas under grassland within the Park.

Specifically, we hope the Green Phoenix movement will enable action by diverse communities and partnerships to ensure conservation of biodiversity and enhance connectivity in corridors; and improve the conservation of endangered and threatened species through long term planning and action.