If we give it a chance, life will always find a way. Here are 4 instances of nature reclaiming and humans restoring land to its rightful prosperity
The trees have been replaced by buildings, the sparrows don’t visit anymore, and the air isn’t nearly as pure as it once was. It is heartbreaking to see the city you grew up in – the city you call home – radically deteriorate right before your eyes. It’s a dreadful feeling being homesick for a place that’s long gone. But, is it really gone forever?
Though we have taken our natural world for granted, Mother Nature has repeatedly shown us how extraordinarily resilient and creative she can be. Afterall, in the end, even the tiniest plant can make its way through the toughest man-made materials, reminding us that nature will always survive, and even thrive – if we lend a helping hand.
Resilience is just one of the many life skills our children can learn from nature. Aside from teaching them that we must move forwards after a fall and have a healthy outlook on life, watching nature withstand its challenges will give rise to future generations who value our planet.
Here’s a look at a few awe-inspiring instances where nature made a grand comeback – either by itself or with a helping hand.
Places Reclaimed by Nature
Ever since we could, humans have been building structures of different kinds and for different purposes – in every corner of the world. For this, we have cleared out forests, diverted streams and drilled through the earth. Sometimes, these places end up uninhabited and abandoned. From lone houses to temples, from castles to theme parks; places we’ve long forgotten – gradually get reclaimed by Mother Nature. Here are just two of them:
Ta Prohm, Cambodia
Built in a jungle centuries ago and now reclaimed by it – the Ta Prohm temple in Cambodia’s Angkor Archeological Park, is a remarkable sight to behold. This beautiful temple was abandoned in the 15th century following the fall of the Khmer empire. Now, most of the walls and corridors have been engulfed by towering silk-cotton, banyan and strangler fig frees, which grow above, around, and through the ancient structures. You might recognize it from the Lara Croft movie – The Tomb Raider.
.Unlike the other Angkorian temples, not many resources were invested into the restoration of the Ta Prohm after observing how beautifully the jungle merged with the architecture.
Seeing glorious trees rising from the ruins of old abandoned temples can give our children hope and teach them how easily nature can breathe back life into the places we have forgotten.
Chernobyl – Pripyat, Ukraine
30 years ago, an explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant sent a cloud of radioactive materials across parts of Europe. Dubbed as the worst nuclear disaster in human history, scientists claim it has made the land uninhabitable for 20,000 years at least. However, while the area surrounding the plant has been off limits to humans for the last three decades, nature has found a way back in.
The trees have regrown and the animals have returned. In fact, researchers have found hundreds of plant and animal species within the zone, including over 60 rare ones.
This eerie and quiet ghost town looks like something straight out of a post-apocalyptic movie. Yet, it’s the perfect manifestation of two things – humankind’s capacity for destruction and nature’s ability to recover.
Places Returned to Nature
Mother Earth is amazingly resilient, especially if we lend a helping hand. Whether working alone or in a group, there are people all around the world who realize how important it is to give back to Mother Earth. Let’s look at some ‘rewilding’ projects in India that have helped return land to its rightful owner:
Aravalli Biodiversity Park – Gurugram, India
Deforestation and mining activities had reduced this 692-acre plot on the edge of Gurgaon to a barren desolate landscape. With just specks of shrubs and bushes, the land was slowly healing from all the years of extraction and damage. Then in 2009, a voluntary group called ‘Iamgurgaon’ (IAG) stepped in and made a proposal to develop the land into a Park before it became a dumping ground or got encroached further.
Together with the Municipal Corporation of Gurgaon (MCG), IAG started a plantation drive that turned the area into the green wonderland that it is today. With winding nature trails and around 300 species of plants, the park has over 195 species of birds and is home to animals like jackals, blue bulls, porcupines, snakes and more. And those mining pits – they now store water during the monsoons.
The Aravalli Biodiversity Park does more than give people a break from the busy city, it cuts carbon dioxide and other smoke emissions, traps dust, recharges groundwater and promotes cloud formation. This event was a great example of how ordinary citizens, local administration and nature, can work together to restore the land to its natural state – and protect it.
Kareem’s Forest – Kerala, India
Even as a little boy, Abdul Kareem had a special relationship with plants. He often found himself strolling through the deep dark woods in his village near Kasaragod in north Kerala, saddened by the sight of fallen trees or burnt bushes. After moving to the Gulf in his 20s and making some money for himself and his family, he returned home to finally do what his heart always told him to – create a forest.
Today, Kareem’s Forest park is spread over 32 acres of land and is home to numerous species of birds, small wild animals, medicinal plants and tall, healthy trees. Kareem is now 70 years old but continues to do all that he can for forest conservation. He welcomes students, scientists and environmentalists to teach and talk about environmental protection, climate change and energy conservation. He also distributes seeds and saplings of his trees to help rejuvenate other waste lands into forests.
“These woods are where we came from,” He says “The call of the wild is in all of us. Never live in the present forgetting the past. We should act before it is too late”.
Though we may not be able to erase the damage done, it’s never too late to start making up for it. And the best way we can do that is to educate our children, set examples for them, and give them the opportunity to reconnect with the natural world. That way, we can create a future generation in whose hands our planet will always be safe.