A Walk With Nature
On 31st August 2019, we conducted a nature trail in Ambedkar Udyan Powai for children from several schools. The trail began at 08:00 am at the main gate of the garden. The session aimed at showing our Green School Campaigners how even in our own highly urbanised city, nature is deeply intertwined with the city. The moderate rainfall caused a bit of inconvenience but also helped us witness the process of groundwater collection and how concretization hinders this process.
The children showed a keen interest in learning about the interdependence of organisms on large trees and the ecology of the usually ignored life forms like funguses, mosses and pteridophytes. We observed trees that were towering over the forest and minute life forms in the undergrowth. Some of the trees that we observed were mango, neem, eucalyptus, cannonball tree, Peepal tree, banyan tree, Ashoka, copper pod, ice apple, coconut, bottle palms and even observed the connected canopy and its importance in the movement of tree-dwelling species. We observed how one single tree could be home to a number of other life forms like fungi, climbers, mosses, many insects and arboreal vertebrates like squirrels. We also learned the history of certain invasive trees like eucalyptus and naturalized trees like coconut. The children were also shown some birds like the Red-vented Bulbul, Palm Swifts and Black Kites.
Different layers of the forest were studied and the importance of the ‘middle story’ of the forest, a commonly ignored strata of the canopy, was shown to our Campaigners. We even observed the amazing life forms in the undergrowth and how a dead tree can be an ecosystem in itself supporting thousands if not millions of creatures. Common monsoon visitors like the earthworm and snails were seen in their natural habitats and we even caught a glimpse of a grub (beetle larvae) making the best of the adapted ecosystem it lived in. Another interesting creature that we learned about was the water strider whose movement is a perfect example of physics and biology where the creature uses surface tension to stay afloat and strides above the surface of the water instead of swimming.
Most important of all was the fact that the children learned and understood the importance of these natural cycles that we observe as well as those we don’t. And how our idea od development should co-exist with our natural environment and not harm it.
Hopefully, these children will grow up to great environmentalists and someday help us in bringing about the change that we are all hope to see.