A garden with wings

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‘Chrysalis’, a butterfly garden was recently launched at the MES College of Arts and Commerce campus. NT KURIOCITY gets the details

NT KURIOCITY

In a bid to create, improve, and maintain a habitat for a variety of butterflies, which are an integral part of our environment, MES College of Arts and Commerce, Zuarinager in association with Foundation for Environment Research and Conservation (FERC), set up ‘Chrysalis’, a butterfly garden at the MES college campus. ‘Chrysalis’ was conceptualised as an action-oriented initiative, as part of the Kasturi lecture series. The butterfly garden is sponsored by the Directorate of Higher Education.

The objective of this unique garden is to encourage butterfly breeding and creating habitats for butterflies by planting appropriate foliage. The habitat is designed not only for butterflies, but also a variety of other invertebrate species.

 Butterflies are an excellent indicator of environment stability, shares founder-member, Foundation for Environment Research and Conservation (FERC), Shraddha Rangnekar. “Butterflies are one of the few species along with bees and other insects that can identify and tell us the status of a particular place and its environment. The more the butterflies, the healthier the environment.” Additionally, areas rich in butterflies and moths are rich in other invertebrates. These collectively provide a wide range of environmental
benefits, including pollination and natural pest control.

The butterfly garden is managed by the students of NSS, members of the Nature Club, faculty members along with experts from FERC, who are competently trained and given the duties and responsibility of looking after the garden, maintaining, watering, planting, etc. “The garden is still in its initial stages. Presently, it is just an open habitat; and it will take a year for it to run as a full-fledged ecosystem for hosting butterflies,” she adds. “We are currently in the process of documenting the local butterflies and training students to identify the butterflies around the campus that would be attracted to the habitat and accept it.”

Butterfly gardens deliver the benefits of nature-designed relations between plants and animals. Even in urban, developed neighbourhoods, butterfly gardens provide a habitat which increases the diversity of butterflies, she adds. The garden has been organically created using vermicompost. It is free of nets, chemicals and pesticides to ensure the safety of butterflies and other species. The plants have been contributed by the Lion’s Club of Cortalim and sourced from nearby nurseries and the Forest Department. Rangnekar further informs: “Students of MES College too, have gotten involved in this initiative right from the initial stages – from sourcing the plants, planting them, watering and maintaining them, preparing posters to spread awareness, etc. And now they are in the process of getting themselves enlightened on the various aspects of butterflies and how to identify them.”

Furthermore, the response from the community has been really good, she shares. “Students from surrounding schools have dropped in to see the butterfly garden, to learn and understand the impact of butterflies.” The garden will enable students to take ownership of the plants and see that they are
nurtured well.

Colleges all over Goa are encouraged to set up similar habitats in their campus. “A butterfly garden doesn’t necessarily require an open airy space to be set up, they can be set up in small, enclosed areas like corridors as well,” she adds.