Lakshmi B. Ghosh

NEW DELHI: Till last year just another junkyard on the North Campus, this is one "wasteland" that Delhi University is all set to turn into its own "nature reserve". And one that will not just give its students their own space in nature, but also the opportunity to know a little more about species that are fast vanishing from the world around them.

Tucked away behind the University stadium, the initiative to convert the place into woodland was taken by former Vice-Chancellor Deepak Nayyar following which the place was incorporated into the University's new master plan.

"The land was a bad sight at that time as it was covered by `malba'. Once completed, the place will serve as not just a conservation hub. If someone wants to be in touch with nature, he can simply come here and relax. It will provide the right ambience for getting a feel of nature," said former Pro-Vice-Chancellor C.R. Babu, who is looking after the project.

The woodland will have a central wetland that will be used to grow aquatic plant species and native fish. This will be fringed with a meadow that will gradually merge with undulating terrains having eight different kinds of ecosystems such as the tropical moist deciduous forest, moist dry deciduous forest, tropical thorns forest and mixed deciduous forest among others.

"We plan to have 500 to 600 species of plants in the place and have already planted 200 species. Some of the species growing in these ecosystem are threatened and are in the red books. But they will be conserved in the woodland," added Prof. Babu.

Also planned is a 1.5-km-long pathway for walking around the reserve. University authorities point out that the expenditure on the reserve is small and short term. "We will be spending on the place for only the coming five years. After that it will be self-sustaining. Also, the Ministry of Environment has promised help ," revealed Prof. Babu.