Science, Tech & Environment

Restoring Urban India's Riverbanks

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This artificial pond draws a range of birds rarely seen together in such numbers in Delhi.

Credit:

Rhitu Chatterjee

For our Geo Quiz today we're in search of a major river in Asia.

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It forms in the high glaciers of the Himalayas before flowing more than 800 miles across northern India. Along the way it becomes the largest tributary of the legendary Ganges River.

Some Hindus believe that bathing in this sacred river "frees one from the torments of death." Unfortunately sections of this river are also severely polluted.

Development along the part of this river that passes the city of Delhi, India, has largely destroyed the land's ability to hold water for humans and wildlife and prevent floods.

There's a glimmer of hope, though regarding the Yamuna River, which is the answer to today's quiz.

A new "biopark" along a stretch of the river is starting to restore some of the the natural services the landscape used to provide.

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    The Yamuna Biodiversity Park is located next to a densely populated neighborhood on the outskirts of Delhi. Its three constructed wetlands draw a concentration of birds rarely seen in the city anymore.

    Credit:

    Rhitu Chatterjee

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    Beds of flowers, grass and wetland trees now grow in what had been a dry, scrubby area, as can still be seen in the distance.

    Credit:

    Rhitu Chatterjee

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    The researchers who created the park began the transformation of the landscape by planting hardy, native grasses like these, which slowly made the soil more fertile and hospitable for other plants.

    Credit:

    Rhitu Chatterjee

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    A group of college students walk through the park's butterfly nursery.

    Credit:

    Rhitu Chatterjee

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    A small pond is home to grasses, lotus plants and creatures that live among them.

    Credit:

    Rhitu Chatterjee