Home to some exotic varieties of birds, small mammals and trees, the college campus, many former students and faculty members say, is probably the greenest among all colleges, at least in this part of the country.

If there is one single factor that brings former students of Madras Christian College back to their college campus in droves, it has to be the lush greenery and rich variety of life there. Many students who glance at photographs of the initial years of the Tambaram campus find it very difficult to come to terms that the campus was nothing but a barren patch of scrubs and that the vegetation seen today is the result of hard work done by many individuals.

Flora and fauna

Home to some exotic varieties of birds, small mammals and trees, the college campus, many former students and faculty members say, is probably the greenest among all colleges, at least in this part of the country.

Joshua Kalapati, Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy, recalled that in 1932, Edward Barnes and his wife Alice moved into a house they built inside the campus and were the first family of the college campus, that is today spread over 365 acres.

A former student of the college, Mohammed Usman, who was in government service, helped immensely in registering land in the name of the college.

“It was entirely the efforts of Barnes and his wife that the college campus looks like a forest today,” Dr. Kalapati adds.

Nurturing nature

Edward Barnes, who taught in the Chemistry Department, along with his wife Alice, brought seeds and saplings and planted them along avenues.

Several eminent teachers contributed immensely to increasing the green cover and they include Venkatasubban, former Head, Department of Botany; Gladstone, former principal, and renowned experts like Giles Lal, P. Dayanandan, C. Livingstone and Durairaj Rajiah.

Biodiversity

D. Narasimhan, Associate Professor, Department of Botany, recalled that the land was an abandoned reserve forest. It was highly degraded with only palmyra trees and today, it has assumed the character of a tropical dry evergreen forest.

There are more than 150 varieties of trees, notable among them being ‘vathanai' – a variety of Ebony and Korintii. The campus also plays host to porcupines, mongoose, spotted deer, snakes, amphibians and many more.

Stating that the MCC campus was a perfect example for regeneration of forest, Dr. Narasimhan said when the college began to grow they started to fence the property. This resulted in prevention of grazing and chopping of trees for firewood by people living around the college.

Almost 60 per cent of the 365-acre expanse is under green cover, with buildings only in the remaining portion, a ratio not many other colleges enjoy.

“The campus is the best example how a good protection system with little anthropogenic interference can bring back native vegetation to a near climax level. Today, the campus has one of the best protected green patches,” Dr. Narasimhan points out.