Preserving Aarey Colony could have a significant impact on mitigating the effects of climate change in Mumbai, according to a recent study conducted by local ecologists. Published in the latest edition of the Amrita Journal of Medicine, the research emphasizes the importance of conserving the Aarey Colony and its protected forests to achieve the United Nations’ 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs).
Anand Pendharkar, the lead author of the study and a dedicated observer of Aarey’s biodiversity since 1986, asserts that Mumbai possesses one of the most promising opportunities for climate mitigation among global metropolises. Pendharkar specifically highlights Aarey Colony as a critical area for climate mitigation.
The study underscores the significance of Aarey’s diverse ecosystem in promoting several SDGs, including food security, responsible consumption, and sustainable livelihoods. Pendharkar points out that Aarey’s forests, rivers, farms, tabelas (dairy farms), and hills are invaluable sources of native sustenance for both tribals and Mumbai’s citizens. These local resources contribute to reducing emissions, minimizing water wastage, and managing solid waste, while also providing positive public health benefits and fostering sustainable economic growth.
Pendharkar explains that further construction in Aarey could have detrimental effects on vital ecosystem services such as pollination, soil quality, carbon sequestration, disease control, temperature regulation, and flood mitigation. Disturbing the catchment area of the Mithi River in Aarey could lead to future flooding, especially considering the predicted increase in extreme rainfall events. Addressing this issue through technocratic means would require significant financial investment.
The report, titled "Aarey conservation: A multifaceted opportunity for climate mitigation in an urban setting,” advocates for the development of a detailed long-term vision plan to protect and enhance the environmental advantages of Aarey Colony and the adjacent Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP). Pendharkar and his colleagues also propose the integration of Aarey’s reserved forest areas with the Kanheri Caves Complex and the forests of SGNP, designating the entire region as a mixed cultural and ecological heritage site under UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere Reserve Programme.
The study highlights the Immense potential of Aarey Colony in contributing to sustainable development and climate change mitigation. Preserving this unique ecosystem and adopting a comprehensive vision for its protection would not only benefit Aarey but also have positive ripple effects throughout Mumbai.