Greening the Matheran Foothills

AtulSathe

IMG

Charred grassy area along Matheran toy train track

 

The World Environment Day on 5 June 2021 is being celebrated with the theme “Ecosystem Restoration”. This year's event will also mark the launch of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030.

To mark this occasion, we bring a special story on how a dedicated bunch of individuals employed innovative measures to reduce incidences of forest fires in Matheran, Maharashtra eventually leading to restoration of the forest, increase in vegetation cover and a boost to the village economy.

 

Maharashtra is known for its factories, film industry, cricketing legends and medieval history. The fact that the state is also blessed with forest-covered mountains of the Sahyadri (Western Ghats) and Satpuda, grasslands on the Deccan plateau and rich coastal ecosystems is not known to many.

Matheran, the popular hill station in Maharashtra, which is a mere two-hour drive from Mumbai, is one of the four places in India to have a toy train leisurely going up the mountain. Matheran literally means ‘The forest on top’ in Marathi. True to its name, Matheran continues to be decently forested on the top; but the foothills have been largely degraded due to deforestation and fires. The barren hillsides strike the tourists like an eyesore as the toy train starts chugging up the steep gradient from Neral Junction at the base…read more