Park Area : 380 acres
Location: Entrance on the Mehrauli-Gurgaon Road, near the Guru Dronacharya Metro station in Gurgaon
- City Forest:The Park is a City Forest, showcasing rich flora of forests of Northern Aravali. With over 300 species of native plants species (trees, shrubs, herbs, climbers and grasses) it is envisioned as a pristine habitat for birds (resident as well as migratory: close to 180 species were reported in year 2014) and a habitat for wild animals (civet cat, jackal, neelgai, porcupine, hare, mongoose including reptiles and insects) of the Northern Aravali.
- Recreational space:The park has an important role of engaging with the citizens in providing them a recreational space in the natural surroundings. Nature trails, walking tracks, jogging/bicycling tracks and Amphitheatre are some of the features of the park.
- Water Recharge zone:The park works as a large ground water recharge zone. The forest plantation on it along with soil and water conservation measures makes this, over 380 acres, recharge zone a boon for the Gurgaon region.
Aravali Biodiversity Park (ABDP), as its name suggests is an endeavour to create a forest garden that celebrates forest flora native to the Aravali range. We have lost a large part of Aravali range, its flora and fauna to rampant development and urbanization. The Aravali Biodiversity Park was once a mining site. The land still has fresh scars of the mining era. ‘iamgurgaon’ intends to restore this scarred land into a biodiversity reserve and celebrate the rich flora of the Aravali Range.
The Aravali Biodiversity Park was declared open by Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda on June 5th 2010, on World Environment Day. Once developed, the Aravali Biodiversity Park would give the citizens of Gurgaon access to 600 acres of pristine space and connect them to nature. It will be a place for leisure walks, jogging, trekking, bird watching, gardening, contemplation and cultural expression. A pristine natural space where nature and people merge into a beautiful natural landscape…
The Aravali Biodiversity Park (ABDP) was declared open by Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda on June 5th 2010, on World Environment Day. Once developed, the Aravali Biodiversity Park would give the citizens of Gurgaon access to 380 acres of pristine space and connect them to nature. It will be a place for leisure walks, jogging, trekking, bird watching, gardening, contemplation and cultural expression. A pristine natural space where nature and people merge into a beautiful natural landscape…
ABDP started taking baby steps towards the nascent idea of a park. MCG, IAG, HFDC and the NGO Uthaan came forward to plant in this derelict landscape, bereft of any soil cover and infested with an exotic invasive plant,Prosopis juliflora. Indiscriminate, if well-intentioned, planting began, without sparing enough thought for the character of the land.
SudhirRajpal, the MCG commissioner in 2010, suggested that the corporates of Gurgaon be engaged in the planting and upkeep of the park. IAG came up with proposals to engage corporates and citizens in this initiative. The members of IAG were very clear that they wanted to grow native plants, so they met PradipKrishen, author of Trees of Delhi, to envision and build an urban forest. Krishen, in turn, directed them to Vijay Dhasmana, an eco-restoration practitioner, who immediately set about to create a wireframe of ideas, and began to give shape and form to a park that—even in those early years—stood at a defiant distance from the standard definitions of a public ‘garden’.
The Vision was to bring in the forests of the Aravalis into the cityscape and to showcase them before they were lost. Haryana is rapidly losing its native species of trees to mining, encroachment, urbanisation and mindless afforestation with the invasive, exotic plant Vilayati keekar Prosopis juliflora. And yet, Vijay knew fully well that together with IAG team, he would have to cover a considerable ecological distance—from the drawing board to directing the transformation of the park into a bona fide jungle.
To begin with, all wanton planting stopped.Work began in earnest and plant lists were drawn up—the plan was to introduce a total of 200 forest species found in the northern Aravalis into the park. Unfortunately, most of these plants are not found at any nurseries;even the nurseries of the forest departments don’t bother to source or grow them. Such an ambitious project therefore demanded that entire nurseries dedicated to native plants be created from scratch:eventually, the nurseries Vanja and Aranya were built with corporate support. A massive hunt for plants, seeds and cuttings was launched, and over the years, several seed collection trips tracing the length and breadth of the Aravalis were made during the fruiting seasons.
Meanwhile, planting plans were drawn, inspired by the best forests of the northern Aravalis, such as the forests of Dhok (Anogeissus pendula), Salai (Boswellia serrata) and Babool (Acacia nilotica). The idea though was not just to turn the park into a woodland, but to also create diverse habitats, including grasslands, conducive to varied life forms. Year on year, the nurseries started adding species that were until then unknown to the city, to the park. Many of these seeds had travelled hundreds of kilometers to make this park a home.
Some corporates, such as Genpact and Sentis, became champion ‘doers and believers’,who helped rewild ABDP after IAG took over its maintenance and development in 2012.Once the park gained popularity as a place for planting, engaging corporates employees, citizens and children, more support started pouring in. KPMG supported drip irrigation, which greatly reduced water wastage and drudgery. DLF provided Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) water for irrigation. In the last 7 years, 53 corporates, more than 50 schools, thousands of children, citizens from all walks of life, planted about hundred thousand plants in the park. In effect, they became the main stakeholders of the park and its development.
ABDP became a large groundwater recharge zone as well, a wonderful catchment area for rainwater. In a city like Gurgaon, where the water table has receded to alarming levels, below recoupable limits, ABDP seeks to make amends.
Today, the park showcases over 300 plant species, 200 of which are rare, endangered flora of the northern Aravalis. It has also become a haven for birds thanks to its diverse habitats. Ebird.com, a globally accepted online database created by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, where bird sightings are reported and tracked across continents in real time, has recorded 182 species in ABDP, making it one of the richest birding habitats in Delhi-NCR. Animals, such as neelgais, jackals, common palm civets, porcupines, hares, snakes, lizards and skunks, are also thriving in the park. Most animal and bird life depend heavily on insects, and the park attracts all kinds of butterflies, moths, beetles, bugs, aphids, ants and spiders.
Even as the park’s landscape comes into its own as a city forest, it is thronged by hundreds of visitors every day. Naturally, ABDP has to do little to keep joggers, walkers, nature enthusiasts and photographers busy. In an effort to further enrich the visitor experience though, proper signage and interpretation panels will soon be installed.
More and more programmes to engage the city with this wilderness are taking shape. Nature walks are now common at ABDP, of course, and an active programme to engage schoolchildren in nature awareness has also been well received. Corporates too find enough engagement at the park for team building or pure volunteering; you can often spot corporate teams cleaning the garbage, composting the leaf litter of the city, or even helping in the nursery. Held at the amphitheatre at the park, Gurgaon Utsav, a celebration of performing arts organised by the Arts & Literature Foundation, has also become a prominent pushpin in the Millennium City’s annual cultural calendar.
By the end of planting season in 2016 more than one lakh saplings have been planted at the Park with a 95% survival rate.