The 330 acres of land at the President’s Estate harbours a rich biodiversity. Open spaces, forest cover, parks, gardens, patches of wilderness, numerous fruit bearing trees and water bodies, have all contributed in supporting rich flora and fauna at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
A nature trail spread over 75 acres has been developed in the Estate for its residents to raise awareness about nature conservation. The nature trail covers both managed and natural eco systems of the Estate and is connected to the gardens of Rashtrapati Bhavan by well laid paths. The main features of the nature trail are the pond ecosystem, butterfly corner, ber groove, mango orchard, peacock point, orangery, the forest ecosystem, the mica point amongst others. Hundred and thirty six wild and cultivated plant species and eighty four animal species comprising forty two invertebrates and an equal number of vertebrates like frogs, garden lizards, snakes etc. have been sighted along the trail. A total of thirty two bird species have also been sighted along the trail which includes Myna, Red vented Bulbul, Indian Grey Hornbill and others. However, Dr. Thomas Mathew, in his book Winged Wonders of Rashtrapati Bhavan has captured one hundred and eleven species of birds in their habitats at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. They included species like Egyptian Vulture, Red-naped Ibis, Spanish Sparrow, Asian Brown Flycatcher, Rofous Treepie, Common Woodshrike, Indian Grey Hornbill and many more. Noted trees of the Estate include, Sita Ashok, Bistendu, Shisham, Gab, Gourd Trees, Wild Almond, Lemon-Scented Gum, Doon Siris and more. Around 5000 trees of 160 species are a part of the Estate.
Given his well known love for nature, Hon’ble President Pranab Mukherjee, has taken steps to make the President’s Estate a haven for birds. During his presidency, around 2000 different varieties of trees were planted in the Rashtrapati Bhavan Estate, including 1000 fruit bearing trees like Indian Gooseberry, Guava, Pomegranate, Custard Apples, Mango, Jamun etc. In President's words, “Rashtrapati Bhavan with its magnificent gardens, open spaces and parks with several hundreds of fruit trees, in a protected environment, is a haven for them. We are trying to develop this ecosystem further through creation of wetlands which we hope shall encourage an even larger number of species of birds to both breed and visit here.” In 2015, President Mukherjee also inaugurated a sewage treatment plant, the recycled water from which could be used to fill up a reservoir to draw wetland birds.
Remembering Late President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and his love for nature, his poem Banyans’ Question Echoes In My Soul rightly captures the essence of the rich flora and fauna of the Rashtrapati Bhavan Estate.
BANYANS’ QUESTION ECHOES IN MY SOUL
Simmering summer scorching the streets
Mirages galore, mankind in despair
Shining hot sun’s sweltering heat
Soaking the world with shocking brightness
Sulking world just wiping its sweat
Yet I was standing under the beautiful shade
Roof of that lovely banyan groove
Sixteen grown up banyans and their aerial roots
Like all of them arm-linked and warding off sunrays
Oh! that lovely cool breeze, and what a respite in heat
Kindred of birds were jumping in branches
Koels were hiding in the coolest corners
Yet their bleary eyes surveyed fiery sunrays
Mynas were teaching fight techniques to kids
Peacocks were rehearsing at the brim of the shade
With half-blown feathers and peahens in pursuit
And, a question got beamed with laser like precision
Like small strand of sunrays that escaped leaves
Ye dear mankind! Possessor of sixth sense!
We bear all the heat and render you shade
Many an animal and birds including mankind
Get soul gratifying relief from this scorching heat
Yet what do you give to one another and world
Banyans’ question echoes in my soul
- Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam