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Restoring Arunachala

Restoring Arunachala the sacred hill in Tamil Nadu - India

The sacred Arunachala Hill in Tamil Nadu rises alone from the surrounding plains to a height of 860m. The hill is one of five main shaivite holy places in South India and is a site of pilgrimage. Geologically, the hill is an outlier of the Eastern Ghats, a broken line of ancient granitic hills that run the length of the India's eastern side, and passes less than 30km to the west of Thiruvannamalai. Arunachala was once covered in forests that supported tigers and other wildlife as ancient Tamil poems attest. But years of wood-cutting and man-made fires left only pockets of stunted trees.

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In 1988 the Rainforest Information Centre was invited to support the restoration of the forest on Arunachala and a local movement began to support the ambitious task. The Rainforest Information Centre have provided funding for the past 25 years to plant and nurture trees from a selection of more than 70 indigenous species. An impressive 1,500,000 trees have been established so far supporting a variety of forest types and providing habitat to innumerable plant and animal species.

For over 25 years the project has provided employment for local people from surrounding villages who are otherwise severely economically disadvantaged. At all times about 30 families are supported through full time employment in seed collection and tree propagation in the nursery, planting trees in the monsoon season, fire regime management involving removal of all inflammable material after each monsoon season, except trees.

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In 2016, with partner organisation The Forest Way based in Thiruvannamalai, we will plant a further 6,000 trees on Arunachala and on organic farms, roadside planting, at local schools and colleges and on village, municipal and temple lands at the base of the hill. The number of trees to be planted is based on annual goals achieved over the previous decade and is very tangible and realistic. The project will be inspected and assessed by the Rainforest Information Centre and a final report will be published in July 2016.

The Rainforest Information Centre is seeking $3,000 to ensure the following outcomes are achieved.

  • The planting of a further 6,000 trees on and around Arunachala
  • Maintenance of the trees including suppressing the threat from wild fires
  • The employment of local people from surrounding villages thereby supporting thirty families.

A donation of $20 will enable the planting of 40 trees

A donation of $50 will enable the planting of 100 trees

A donation of $100 will enable the planting of 200 trees

A donation of $250 will enable the planting of 500 trees

A donation of $500 will enable the planting of 1,000 trees

A donation of $1,000 will enable the planting of 2,000 trees

A donation of $5,000 will enable the planting of 10,000 trees

A donation of $10,000 will enable the planting of 20,000 trees

A donation of $20,000 will enable the planting of 40,000 trees

The Rainforest Information Centre is registered with the Australian government as a Deductible Gift Recipient. Donations are tax-deductible for Australian residents.