Forest, Garden and Its History
Sevayoor “Place of Service” the home of Vaigai Flora Botanical Gardens is located in Virudunagar district, formerly part of the Ramnad district. The Vaigai Flora Botanical Garden is a regional repository of bio-resources. It is located 38 km from Madurai. It consists of 45 acres of manmade forests. The manmade forests were curated to be a repository of native species of the region. This includes (semi-arid) flora of dry-deciduous species from the districts of Madurai, Ramanathapuram, Sivagangai, and Virudhunagar. The native specimens and supporting flora were all systematically and scientifically collected from five different accessions in the neighboring reserve forests. These include the Sathuragiri Mahalingam Hills in Watrap, Shenbagathopu in Srivilliputhur and Ayyanar Falls in Rajapalayam.
- Collaboration with Foundation for Revitalisation of Local Health Traditions (FRLHT)
- Developing the Herbarium, Seed and Raw Drug Museum (HSRD)
- Developing the Ethno-Medicine Forest (EMF) and demo garden
- Developing the nursery
- Nattu vaidyars organization – a network of traditional medicine practitioners
- Kitchen herbal garden program
- Developing user packages and organizing workshops training programs
- Community Enterprise promotion – tie-ups with local educational institutions
- Nattu vaidyar pharmacy
- Vaigai Flora Botanical Gardens: Revival and Re-establishment of Sevayoor.
In the herbarium, processing of specimens, pasting, labeling, and classification of the medicinal plants collected was undertaken. For raw drugs and seeds of medicinal plants, processing for storage and for display had to be separately undertaken.
The Vaigai Flora Botanical Gardens consists of 33 acres of Ethno-Medicine Forests (EMF), a specific medicinal plants nursery, a Herbarium, Seed and Raw Drug (HSRD) museum, an interpretation centre on panchama bootha (5 elements) and planets, established in 1996 as Medicinal Plants Conservation Park (MPCP) under the auspices of the Covenant Centre for Development (CCD) founded by Ashoka Fellow Muthu Velayutham.
Farming activity began on the campus in 1994. Following the acquisition of more adjoining fields, it took 8 years of consistent, hard work and effort to develop the Sevayoor farm and lands. The first 18 months was spent in removing the Karuvelai (Prosopis juliflora) forest alone. Then it took another 18 months for the first grass to appear on the scene (around 1996). Ethno-medical species and supporting species were then sourced from neighboring reserve forests and cultivated in the eco-zones earmarked.
The water quality of the region was seen to improve dramatically with the growth of the ethnomedicinal forest despite the prolonged drought in the region. The forest is home to over 200 bird species including India’s national bird the peacocks.
The Vaigai Flora Botanical Gardens are demarcated into three zones:
- Zone 1 houses over 400 local tree species representing the regional ecosystem of semi-arid region popularly known as dry deciduous forest species covering around the boundaries as a live hedge in its front row covered with cactus and xerophytes, that host the snakes and birds of the region.
- Zone 2 has trees, shrubs, herbs and climbers of an analog of three forest areas of Western Ghats spread across the Virudhunagar district between Watrap, Srivilliputhur, and Rajapalayam. It was grown in areas of 20x20 meter girth, exclusively ear-marked for the flora used by the regions’ 42 ethnic communities - 240 species along with its natural association of species.
- Zone 3 is ear-marked for thematic gardens, pictorially exhibiting plants association with planets, stars and sacred status as sthala viruksha, other group of plants representing both human and bovine usage, third one is the economic value of its different parts as flowers, seeds, barks, roots and trunk portions by Ayurveda, Siddha, Unnani, Tibetan and traditional medical practitioners (nattu vaidhiyars). Herbs with its substitute plants used in trade are also exhibited.
The purpose of the Vaigai Flora Botanical Gardens goes beyond being a repository of native and ethno-medicinal forests and bio-resources. It seeks to serve as a centre of learning and hub of training for youth and the neighbouring community. To enable young people and the local community to learn from nature and value and utilize natural resources such as ethno-medicinal species. It seeks to combat the problem of rural migration, and school dropout by creating enterprises and resources in situ.
- Conserving the regional (semi-arid) flora of dry-deciduous species from Ramnad plains, one among the seven agro-climatic regions of Tamil Nadu, which is part of Madurai, Ramanathapuram, Sivagangai and Virudhunagar districts, which are all systematically and scientifically collected from five different accessions in the neighbouring reserve forests (Sathuragiri Mahalingam Hills in Watrap, Shenbagathopu in Srivilliputhur and Ayyanar Falls in Rajapalayam).
- Educating students, botanist, medical practioners and medicinal plant resource based livelihood dependent communities such as healers, gatherers, farmers and artisans on the medicinal value of the species.
- Sapling bank for the medicinal species which farmers or villagers can use for commercial production as well as households can utilize for their primary health care needs.
- Training center for an aspiring young generation from traditional healers, medicinal plant gatherers and cultivators plus health conscious community who can learn both theory and practice by experts from agriculture, horticulture, forestry and botany fields.
- An association of different user communities both primarily meant for livelihood dependent healers, gatherers and cultivators as well as the secondary users of medical practioners, both traditional and modern pharmacist, quality control persons from different Indian System of medicine, manufacturers and very specifically the teaching communities of agriculture, horticulture, forestry and botany, will be formed to regularly refresh and update their subject, knowledge and practices in regular intervals.
Meet the Team
Founder & CEO
Dr. Arivudai Nambi