Gallery Story

The gardens and greenery of the DNA landscapes have their own charm ‑ a canvas like none other. Our aim is a heartfelt experience that promotes human health and happiness, particularly so for the urban youth. Most of the landscapes are kept, as much as possible, in a wild condition and the animals love it that way. As the nation's forests become more difficult for individuals to explore and enjoy for a host of reasons, the DNA offers a wild felt home for the soul to enjoy at rest without the worry of tigers, leopards or bears. Nonetheless, we are developing a series of small visitor parks along the travel ways that will feature lawns and flower beds as well as refreshments. We are easily accessible by vehicle or train to Hyderabad's metropolitan population of over 10 million though we are closed until we finish our development.

Recently, we built a wall of just over 7 km all along our borders which keeps out neighbouring bush fires that had been a great worry over the years. This tall wall itself provides many important microhabitats for certain kinds of flora and fauna that require partial shade and more soil moisture than open conditions allow. The wild animals inside the DNA are kept safe from bushmeat hunters as well as feral cats, dogs and pigs not to mention competition from livestock. Years ago, hunters would come into the DNA and purposefully set fires to chase out animals to catch. No more.
Without the pressures of livestock and fires that had been regularly set, hundreds of Boswellia saplings are on the rebound totalling thousands throughout the entire DNA land. We have not cultivated this species. This wild population produces good, viable seed suitable to the most tough semi‑arid conditions. All nearby forest reserves and shrublands have no further record of this species locally.

In 2011, we had a fire that scorched nearly 70% of the DNA landscape. We learned a lot in those couple of days. Tough lessons. During the following year, we put in place a variety of fire control measures that have prevented any repeat of that event. Now, our 12‑foot high border wall is doing a great job of preventing most, if not nearly all, embers of outside ground fires from entering. This gives us the precious time needed to respond with equipment to the appropriate location on our side of the wall.

One of the reasons we selected this land was due to a forty acre area wherein a wealth of naturally growing tree species such as Givotia moluccana, Dalbergia latifolia and Boswellia serrata were trying to grow. Though severely suppressed from decades of firewood collection and livestock grazing, these former stubs have since grown into trees. Now, many saplings have gained years of growth due to fewer bush fires in this area that had been regularly set alight by goatherders and shepherds through the years to grow fresh fodder. We have named this section of the DNA as the "Deccan Jungle" wherein the flora is naturally regenerating. Since acquiring this land in 2005, we have left this 40 acre area entirely alone except to remove a few invasive species from gaining a further foothold.

Over the years, we have made hundreds of tons of mulch and compost from collecting discarded coconuts and tree trimmings along Hyderabad's roadsides. All this has contributed essential biomass to help revive our degraded soils that were severly deficient of organic matter. We also recycle the discarded rubble of brick kilns and old village buildings.
To help the rarest flora gain a foothold and thrive, we mix biochar into the soil at the bottom of the pit. We make biochar from cut branches, coconuts and bamboo. Here's to healthy soil microflora!
Dharmavana Nature Ark - Gallery - Biomass
Dharmavana Nature Ark - Gallery - Biomass
Dharmavana Nature Ark - Gallery - Biomass Dharmavana Nature Ark - Gallery - Biomass
Dharmavana Nature Ark - Mission - Our team at work on the DNA land.
How we move it all around!
Vermicompost - While very useful to the immediate needs of agriculture, we prefer to mix 'raw' organic matter into the soil as food for the microflora. Healthy soil is only as good as its web of life. This approach provides a steady release of nutrients to roots and promotes moisture retention more suitable to the DNA's silviculture orientation. Organic matter (food) combined with biochar (shelter) is a powerful combination for optimising the microflora communities that vitalise soil.

Having enough water year round is a major concern. While we have utilised dozens of techniques all over the land to retain rainwater, redistribute runoff, promote percolation & groundwater recharge, our greatest challenge is to enhance soil moisture retention since the water table is out of reach for most of our plants. Pictured is an old fashioned approach we use to store over 12,00,000 litres to save for the non‑rainy days. Other rainwater is collected across our 20 monsoonal ponds. Check dams are located in many places.

Overall, we have planted species that are vastly underrepresented or absent in reforestation/afforestation projects or in public park and roadside plantations due to their rarity, slow growth, deciduous nature, required microhabitats, spines, toxic foliage or fruits, or other 'undesirable' traits such as being "ugly" or difficult to propagate. Over the years, we have noticed a decline in the quality and viability of jungle seed largely due to a host of anthropogenic stressors that we are able to mitigate, if not reverse, within the DNA to produce better quality seed. Some of this has to do with crippled populations of pollinators due to ecosystem imbalances.
We do not use drip irrigation. In a good year, we receive about 850 mm or more of rainfall mostly during the monsoon from June to October. A few years have been as low as 550 mm. To help establish seedlings and young saplings, we water them as needed during their first couple of years. For the most part, we practice 'tough love' which makes for a slow start but promotes better root & stem development for the plants' long‑term stability in the tough, semi‑arid conditions of the DNA.

Today, the landscape features a thick turf of over twenty grass species as the soil rebounds from decades of overgrazing by livestock (goats, cattle and buffalo). Many other deep rooted species of herbaceous plants have nearly halted erosion. We are constantly at work on soil rehabilitation and conservation throughout the lands. Robust populations of everything from earthworms to lightning bugs (not to mention termites) are gaining ground.
The same DNA landscape
      May 2007
        November 2020

On 13 Oct. 2020, the heaviest October rains of a century flooded our seven acre NurseryLand. Many seedlings washed away. Since 2003, this nursery has been dedicated to growing plants exclusively for the DNA's botanical gardens, arboretum, and heritage woodlands. Measures are underway to mitigate and fortify against any future occurrences. The flood filled our nursery pond to the brim. We should have a good supply of water for the next 18‑24 months.

These are some of our frequent flyers who enjoy the DNA. Over the years, many birds have arrived to make their homes here since they can easily find food and a plentiful supply of nest building materials. We have lots of peacocks too. All pictures have been taken within the DNA lands of birds who live here.
Microcarbo niger
(Little Cormorant)
Species of the Day    List 
Cochlospermum religiosum
Cochlospermum religiosum    more