The Kerala Forest Research Institute (KFRI) is joining hands with the state government to set up organic gardens and butterfly parks in schools. KFRI, a pioneer in setting up butterfly parks in the state, will provide assistance to the schools in setting up gardens that will be lush with native flowers like 'Krishnakireedam' (pagoda flower or Clerodendrum paniculatum), thechi (Ixora coccinea), thumba (Leucas zeylanica) and other flowering shrubs and medicinal herbs that you have read about in your text books.
Soumya, a research scholar at KFRI, told Onmanorama how it all began and what they planed to achieve with this project.
How it began
It was in 1998 that KFRI started the butterfly park. A brain-child of George Mathew, the butterfly park at KFRI was envisaged as an open park. The first year saw a lot of butterflies making their visit and then, over the years, it developed into an ecosystem where birds and small reptiles coexisted. The butterfly park has now become home to over a hundred varieties of butterflies - some which are almost extinct and on the red data book.
The project, now under the leadership of Dr T.V. Sajeev, will now move from the lab to the common man. The project got to a start on World Environment Day.
Saving an ecosystem
These days, we pave the compound with tiles, pluck out native shrubs and flowering plants. Such actions disrupt the ecosystem that is conducive for the gathering of butterflies. This causes more varieties of butterflies to become endangered. This will not disrupt life as we know it now. However, it disrupts the ecosystem. the small birds that feed on the butterflies, the small animals and reptiles that feed on the birds and up the food chain will be affected. It will be a gradual change that may take a lot of time, but will happen definitely. And unless we act now, life as we know it will no longer exist and it will be too late to correct it.
Start small, start with common flowers - let the butterflies come and the ecosystem will not be disrupted. Plant more flowering trees - and they need not be very costly or exotic – something as common as the 'thumba and thechi' will make all the difference.
This new project envisages an organic park in every school. The kids have heard about most of these flowers and shrubs - however, since they are not easily available, not many are familiar with them. It will be entertaining and educational for them to see the flowers and see how an ecosystem will evolve in front of their eyes over the course of time.
What you can do
It is not just the schools that could help. You could start at home. Do not pull out all the medicinal plants and flowers that grow naturally in your compound. Before you decide to put interlocking tiles on the ground, remember that you are putting the environment at risk. Once gardens come up, butterflies too will arrive and with a promise of greener tomorrow.