‘Sahyadri Arboretum’: A Haven for Conservation of Rare Plants and Trees in Pune’s Mulshi Taluka

'Sahyadri Arboretum': A Haven for Conservation of Rare Plants and Trees in Pune's Mulshi Taluka
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Pune, 30th May 2023: A remarkable conservation project called ‘Sahyadri Arboretum’ has recently been established near the city, dedicated to preserving the plant and tree species of the northwestern Ghats. The natural population of these species in the Sahyadri region has been steadily declining, raising concerns among environmentalists.


The project, located at Green Echoes, Ark Wellness Retreat in Nandgaon, Mulshi Taluka, Pune, is an ex-situ conservation initiative conceptualized by plant enthusiast Shrikant Ingalhalikar nearly a decade ago. The Sahyadri Academy of Ecological Sciences, with the support of Laxman Kulkarni and K. C. Malhotra, played a vital role in its establishment.


Addressing the press during a conference yesterday, Shrikant Ingalhalikar explained, “Observing the lack of efforts towards preserving the endangered plant and tree species from the Sahyadri range, which often require a significant amount of time to grow, I decided to take individual action approximately ten years ago. I began collecting seeds and saplings of 200 rare Sahyadri species since no one was actively raising them here. Many of these seeds and saplings were procured from states like Goa, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan.”


“In my personal nursery, I successfully developed techniques for growing saplings into mature trees using large grow bags. These trees were ready for planting, with some even flowering and bearing fruit. After learning about my efforts, Laxman Kulkarni offered a space at Green Echoes, Ark Wellness Retreat in Nandgaon, Mulshi Taluka, Pune. We developed a 2.5-acre site with facilities such as fencing, landscaping, caretakers, water sources, and drip irrigation. Over the past two years, approximately 300 rare plants and trees have taken root in this picturesque habitat,” he added.


Ingalhalikar also mentioned that his observations of tree plantations during the establishment of the TELCO (Tata Motors) plant in Pune, under the leadership of Sumant Moolgaokar, greatly aided him in undertaking this conservation project.


At the Sahyadri Arboretum, visitors can admire over 300 plants and trees from the Sahyadri region, each accompanied by its botanical name and relevant information. The arboretum aims to raise awareness about the rich biodiversity of the Western Ghats, and therefore, entry is free for all.

The official inauguration of ‘Sahyadri Arboretum’ is scheduled for June 4th, to be carried out by renowned ecologist and Chairman of the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel, Dr Madhav Gadgil. This landmark project will offer opportunities for botanists, ecologists, landscapers, and enthusiasts to study rare plant species in a single location. The germplasm collected here will soon be utilized for producing fresh saplings of these endangered plant species. Among the rare plants and trees found at the Sahyadri Arboretum are Tetrameles, Pittosporum, Myristica, Knema, Walsura, and Dysoxylum.


Shrikant Ingalhalikar, an engineer turned entrepreneur, is renowned for his expertise in the flora and fauna of the Sahyadri Mountains. He is the author of the book series titled ‘Flowers of Sahyadri’ and is also known for his creative ‘Paddy Art’ installations in rice plantations. Every year during the monsoon, his Paddy Art near Sinhagad attracts tourists. He has been creating art pieces through Paddy Art for the past 7-8 years. Interestingly, he has already created an arboretum of 400 species at his Sinhagad base.