NGO Vanashakti, which has been at the forefront of Mumbai’s green movement, is now on a mission to unveil the city’s hidden forests, previously undocumented by the government. In their newly-released book, The Missing Forests of Mumbai, they have presented a year-long study, including field surveys identifying green patches, and various species of flora and fauna.
In the book, the environmental NGO has also highlighted the potential to increase Mumbai’s forested areas by an impressive 12.34 per cent. The book was launched on Friday by Dr Ben V Clement, additional principal chief conservator of forests (APCCF), Wildlife, Maharashtra State Forest department at the National Interpretation Centre, Sanjay Gandhi National Park.
According to Vanashakti, the primary objective of this study was to acquire initial estimates of the forested regions within Mumbai that had previously gone unexamined. Given the preliminary nature of this investigation, the aim was to identify areas within Mumbai that could be categorised as forests and to establish an initial database containing information about the flora present in these forested areas.
The results of this study highlight the abundant tree cover within Mumbai. Remarkably, the research highlighted 18 areas distinguished by significant plant diversity, collectively enhancing the city’s green cover by an additional 13.68 square kilometres. Throughout the course of this study, a rich floral diversity of 111 species was meticulously documented. This array included five herb species, 14 shrub species, three climbers, one grass species, one fern species, and a striking 87 species of angiospermic trees, representing a diverse range of plant families.
Elaborating on the need for such a study, Stalin D, founder and director of Vanashakti, said, “The document was prepared to help the Municipal Corporation and Forest Department. Both these departments need to jointly protect and preserve these areas, which are mentioned in our report.” He added, “Only natural forests above one ha were surveyed, while man-made ones were excluded. It was shocking to know that almost 1,350 ha of forests were left out of being protected and this was in clear violation of the orders of the SC.”