IIT Bombay: A Step Towards Appreciating Biodiversity

Mumbai: The vast campus of IIT Bombay, located just south of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, is very rich in biodiversity. Nestled within the majestic hills on one side and the Powai and Vihar lakes on the other side, the campus carries a surreal air of calm and peace that is rare in Mumbai.
To make the residents and even outsiders visiting the campus aware of the diversity in the species of trees found here, students of IIT Bombay enrolled in National Service Scheme (NSS) decided to identify and name the species of trees present on one side of the main road of the campus. This is just the beginning, the students said as they wish to continue the exercise across the campus to make more people aware about the rich biodiversity in the campus.
A report of World Wide Fund For Nature named “Study of Biodiversity of IIT Bombay Campus” from 2008-09 was used as the starting point. More than 200 trees of 40 different species were identified by the students. Mr. Raman Garase from the Institute’s nursery helped the students verify the identification. Low-cost placards were made and tied to the trees featuring their common name, botanical name and their specialty/ uses. A database was also made wherein the details regarding the exact location has been recorded.
Campus residents were surprised at the number of unique species of trees the campus boasted of. Shreerang Kaore, a third year mechanical engineering student said, “I’ve spent three years in the campus but never cared to pay attention to such diversity. I always thought that all trees are similar. Only on seeing the placards and learning about the different features and uses of each tree did realization dawn upon me. It’s fascinating to see that the campus is so rich in the variety of species.” Similar responses were received from faculty and staff members who have spent decades in the campus.