Hermitage – afforesting canyon land

Hermitage is located on the extreme end of the Auroville “galaxy”, consisting of approximately 74 acres. Primarily canyon land, Hermitage is a starkly beautiful landscape and now home to a rich variety of wildlife.

The steward of this land, Bernd, says, “When I became steward of Hermitage in 1989 there was hardly any grass cover worth the name,  – let alone biodiversity in fauna and flora! Looking back, Hermitage has evolved tremendously. Stewarding this Auroville land has been so very satisfying that I would do it again. I created a forest!”

Bernd continues, “It’s a bit like a baby to me. One sows the seeds and watches  plants growing, nature responding. One has to protect the trees, in some cases prune them and one fine day one can leave them alone because they have grown enough to fend for themselves. They create life themselves. It is never finished: One can always plant more and newer species…

“In 1989 we started by digging a deep well and bunding the area which was a herculean task on a large, hilly tract like Hermitage. After that came planting. We have put in more than one hundred thousand trees and countless shrubs and grasses.

“In 1990, a time when all such work was still done by hand, we started constructing earth dams in the canyons for rainwater catchment. Initially we worked only on Hermitage land but subsequently I was approached by the presidents of the neighbouring two Panchayats (local governing bodies) and asked to extend the work to public lands under their jurisdiction. As of 2017 we have completed 26 earth dams with a cumulative length of 1100 meters and an average height of 6 m. Their combined water holding capacity totals several hundred thousand cubic meters.

“In future, with the help of some like minded Aurovilians, volunteers and financial support, I hope to create a chain of interconnected water bodies on an area of more than 500 acres which will attract a still more diverse wildlife, flora and fauna. Ideally, the area could become a protected bird and wildlife sanctuary.

“I like to work with volunteers for special occasions like planting, preparing a nursery, etc.  Of course, I would encourage others to start a project like that but they have to love the job, have enough money to sustain themselves, and, importantly, patience! It is rare to find patient people now a days…”

Our main activities are:

  • soil and water conservation
  • reforestation
  • preservation of biodiversity
  • wetland creation and protection
  • creation of a protected area for wildlife
  • protection of endangered species

For more details welcome to contact Bernd at Hermitage