Mission

Dharmavana Nature Ark - Mission - DNA Sign Board

"Today, over 1 million animal and plant species are threatened by extinction and many of the world's ecosystems are at risk of collapse. . . . without further efforts to tackle habitat loss and degradation, global biodiversity decline will continue at a rate close to or greater than that for 1970‑2010." ref. https://www.unep-wcmc.org/news/strategy-for-halting-and-reversing-biodiversity-loss-revealed
Nature 585, 551‑556(2020)

"Tropical dry forests, on a worldwide basis, are one of the most threatened biomes on earth ‑ much more so, as a whole, than tropical rain forests. The tropical lowland areas with a long dry season (more than 5 months of dry weather each year) are, in general, much more favorable for agriculture and human settlement than are the tropical rain forest areas, and they generally have denser human populations."
ref. http://www.mobot.org/MOBOT/research/ecuador/zapotillo/report.shtml

Biodiversity loss is well established and the consequences are real, there is ample evidence. Moreover, the loss of genetic diversity impairs evolution. Irreversible climate change has happened and is accelerating. It is likely to become more disruptive than predicted over the next couple hundred years due in large measure to human failings. Along with mitigation efforts, we must practice coping mechanisms to remedy increasing stresses on biomes if not facilitate nature‑led recoveries and advancements altogether. This time around, regarding the sixth mass extinction, humankind is the chief culprit. Centuries of our polluting practices and direct encroachments of all kinds are precipitating disasters and pushing species to the brink.
The DNA has set aside over 325 acres for the conservation of floral\faunal diversity within fixed borders of 7 km. We have carefully protected and properly documented this land that we have placed in the natural domain.
  The same DNA hillock slope of Boswellia serrata
Dharmavana Nature Ark - Mission - The same DNA hillock slope of 'Boswellia serrata' - November 2015 Dharmavana Nature Ark - Mission - The same DNA hillock slope of 'Boswellia serrata' - October 2020
November 2015 October 2020
Compare
The same DNA landscapes over the years
Dharmavana Nature Ark - Mission - The same DNA landscapes over the years - September 2007  
Dharmavana Nature Ark - Mission - The same DNA landscapes over the years - December 2020
September 2007 December 2020
Compare
Dharmavana Nature Ark - Mission - The same DNA landscapes over the years - January 2008 Dharmavana Nature Ark - Mission - The same DNA landscapes over the years - October 2020 Dharmavana Nature Ark - Mission - The same DNA landscapes over the years - May 2023
January 2008 October 2020 May 2023
Compare
The Dharmavana Nature Ark (DNA) is a conservator of life for the welfare of plants (found throughout India & some exotic) and small animals native to our area. We focus on RET and woody species, such as trees & shrubs, that have pollinator problems or whose seed is problematic to conserve - seeds that are heavily parasitised, can't dry out, be kept cool, freeze or that have no long-term viability by other means resulting in poor recruitment. Therefore, our emphasis is on keeping living germplasm alive. Regarding native dryland species of the Deccan Plateau and Eastern Ghats, we regularly tour dry forests near and far to collect hundreds of seeds from multiple mother plants per species. We are dedicated to conserving life that is of medicinal, cultural and well-being significance particularly with regard to keystone species. We carefully document the mother plants in their native jungle habitats with a series of data points and often replicate their floral associations within the DNA. All data is logged in our GIS database.
During the months following germination, we purposefully select those seedlings that demonstrate the most resilience to induced stresses (abiotic stressors such as higher soil temperature & alkalinity, much drier air, and sustained heat, etc.) for plantation as colonies in the DNA. These same plants thrive all the more during the much higher humidity and rainfall of the monsoon. Our goal is to produce, if not naturally accelerate the production of, more suitable seed for future rewilding efforts over the next hundred or so years. In doing so, we become host to a wealth of native species necessary to a healthy ecosystem, essential for rewilding the most degraded areas of dry deciduous forests. The DNA delivers deliverance.
Relationships among plants and animals must be re‑established and maintained as they are fundamental to each other's long‑term survival. Consequently, pollinators and seed dispersers too need a safe home for the time being away from pesticides, real estate and agriculture. Basically, the DNA is just less hustle & bustle though there remains plenty of ardor going on. Consider us a "back‑up" for much of what is considered, at the moment, to be "unimportant" or "undeserving" diversity. To us, biodiversity is not simply an array of species but very much includes the genetic wealth of infraspecific subtaxa (ecotypes & formae) that must not be ignored. Conserving distinct, endemic land‑races is integral to biological diversity and this we have done with several South Asian genera. These irreplaceable traits found at the allele level in various localities throughout the Deccan and Ghats can be key to a species long‑term evolutionary survival and deserve a fighting chance. Nevertheless, we most certainly concentrate on flora that is increasingly threatened, rare, endangered and overlooked. We want to do more for the conservation of fauna too. There is so much for humans to learn, love, and revere through scientific investigation.
Dharmavana Nature Ark - Mission - Original jungle left to grow within the DNA. Dharmavana Nature Ark - Mission - Original jungle left to grow within the DNA. Dharmavana Nature Ark - Mission - Original jungle left to grow within the DNA. Dharmavana Nature Ark - Mission - Original jungle left to grow within the DNA.
Original jungle left to grow within the DNA.
Dharmavana Nature Ark - Mission - Partially cultivated landscapes within the DNA. Dharmavana Nature Ark - Mission - Partially cultivated landscapes within the DNA. Dharmavana Nature Ark - Mission - Partially cultivated landscapes within the DNA. Dharmavana Nature Ark - Mission - Partially cultivated landscapes within the DNA.
Partially cultivated landscapes within the DNA.
All this, then, a living classroom and laboratory of best and innovative practices to be explored by grade school students, studied by higher education, and enjoyed by all for research. The DNA hopes to inspire the environmentalists of tomorrow and youth for hundreds of years to come by showing them what was once and can be again! We are fortunate to have a relatively unscarred piece of the Deccan Plateau truly representative of this region's geology and topography located in a semi‑arid (sub)tropical climate at an altitude of approximately 500 meters. The nearest seacoast is 250 km. Our locale is not affected by natural calamities such as volcanoes, tornados, hurricanes, typhoons, cyclones, tsunamis, catastrophic fires, flooding, landslides or earthquakes of significance making the DNA a relatively stable place to "invest" in Nature for the future. Most of the plants growing in the DNA require good drainage. The landscape is mostly hillocks and slopes which, due to its elevation with regard to neighbouring lands, preclues inflows of polluted water or waste. During heavy monsoons there are outflows of clean rainwater. The area is suitable for growing trees with lifespans of hundreds of years, if not thousands, with little damage from natural disasters other than occasional violent storms.
Dharmavana Nature Ark - Mission - Our teams at work on the DNA land. Dharmavana Nature Ark - Mission - Our teams at work on the DNA land.
Dharmavana Nature Ark - Mission - Our teams at work on the DNA land. Dharmavana Nature Ark - Mission - Our teams at work on the DNA land.
Dharmavana Nature Ark - Mission - Our teams at work on the DNA land. Dharmavana Nature Ark - Mission - Our teams at work on the DNA land.
Dharmavana Nature Ark - Mission - Our teams at work on the DNA land. Dharmavana Nature Ark - Mission - Our teams at work on the DNA land.
Our teams at work on the DNA land.
We have a dedicated staff of over sixty committed, impassioned men and women whose struggle on a daily basis, across all seasons, is producing the hard won results you can see in the pictures shown here and those found in our Gallery Story. Our various teams of conservationists work on seed collection & documenting mother trees, germination & seedling development, sapling 'boot camp', and plantation & hardening off in the DNA landscape. We have administrative functions, library and research needs, government relations and fundraising to attend as well! We all take great satisfaction and pleasure in the growing numbers of plants and animals that have made the DNA their home or home base.
The DNA team at work in the field.
Our library and germination lab.
To sum up, we alone are responsible for our species' greed and disregard of nature. We are too many. More than any other member of life, our global reach threatens the rest of life everywhere. The populations of so many life forms are many times less, tens if not hundreds of times less, than they were just a hundred years ago. That is their peril, our peril, the unsung flora & fauna that only a mother could love, mother nature.
Yet, nature evolved and enlisted us as her most sophisticated tool to stave off and remedy mass extinctions, not cause them. Might we, of all her species, conserve the hard won building blocks of life ‑ DNA (DeoxyriboNucleic Acid) ‑ eons in the making, often intricate beyond comprehension, so that it will not go waste arbitrarily by happenstance. Sadly, all too often it takes a tragedy to bring us to our senses. We must do better, just as nature rightfully expects of us. Some, if not many, of life's greatest achievements are alive on earth today. They must not to be doomed by human folly but rather respected by human intellect which itself must manifest as a keystone of natural intelligence. We are, afterall, a part of nature, not apart. The world's great religions teach us to honour, respect and uphold nature's wisdom - we need only listen. Hallowed woods must not become hollowed woods.
Species of the Day    List 
Madhuca indica Faunal Database of over 500 species living in the Dharmavana.
Madhuca indica    more