They are going to plant trees and shrubs on a golf course on a mountain, and turn it into a forest. For an opinion I was chatting with my friend Satish, an avid golfer.

“It’s a terrible idea,” said Satish.

“But why?” I asked “It’s not like a lot of people were playing there. It wasn’t a great course, and hardly anyone ever went there. This was in some remote district of Uttarakhand. And their study found that the slope was too steep.”

“We are a country where we are already short on sports infrastructure. And we are taking a golf course, and making it into a forest? We shouldn’t be talking about medals tally in sports then. Did you know that in Scotland there is one golf hole for every 500 people, while in India it is one for every 2.75 lakh people?” He showed me this website to prove his point.

“But what would you rather have them do?”

“Well, if the slope was too steep, why build in the first place? But now that they have built it, they should encourage the people around to start playing the sport. They should try and improve usage of the course instead of destroying it. This is a real golf course and not some sales gimmick by a builder to sell apartments around.”

Hmm. Valid argument.

After doing an evaluation, the authorities decided to convert the golf course into a

golf course
The golf course now

forest.  The folks at Alaap, a social enterprise, are working to make this area wild again. The goal of Alaap is to bring back the native forests of the Himalayas. They will plant a wide variety of trees and grow a natural, mixed forest on the former golf course. They will plant two acres at a time until the entire nine acres is forest. (more on alaap here).

golf course into forest
A typical native forest like the one Alaap will plant. This is what that golf course might be in a few years.

This will change many things on the mountain. The higher supply of moisture will mean more water in the aquifers deep underground. Like more blood in the veins of the mountain. This will mean more water in the natural springs in the area. Bees may build hives. The plants will attract leaf-eating wild animals to the area. Those in turn will attract predators. All this could lead to unforeseen outcomes like when they released the 14 wolves in Yellowstone. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rSzQ9w5TCqc )

This will benefit the ecology, and that makes animals happy. The humans will be largely indifferent except for a few nearby villagers. Heck, the President of the USA doesn’t believe climate change is real.

So clearly, I am sitting on a fence here. The big question strikes me. Is it man’s job to serve nature (as Salman Khan believes)? Or is it nature’s job to serve man (as Salman Khan believes)?

Since it is a tough call, I think we should ask the mountain. After all the golf course sits on its chest.

“Sure. And the next time you meet your padlock, please say hello for me.” You say.

I know that the rational left-brainer in you thinks it’s ridiculous to talk to a mountain. But humour me for a bit. Switch on your sensitive, emotional right brain. Imagine for a moment that a mountain has feelings. That it reacts to what happens on it. That it hurts when it is mined. It wilts in dry heat and thrives in the rain.

I am sure the mountain knows the answer. If you ask the mountain, what do you think it will say?

Feel free to comment.

2 thoughts on “Turning a golf course into a forest. Good idea?

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