Location: Vriksha Valli at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS), Mumbai.

Duration:Conceptualisation and Development: Nov, 2022 to May, 2023

Typology of the solution: Biodiversity focused garden

Scale of the project Neighborhood

About the project:

Biodiversity can help cities mitigate the negative impacts of urbanisation, such as air and water pollution, the heat island effect, and soil degradation. However, urbanisation is driving large-scale biodiversity loss through habitat destruction, fragmentation, and degradation. Not only are cities losing their green spaces but natural habitats are being replaced by manicured lawns, monocultures and gardens cluttered with non-native often invasive plant species that serve an aesthetic purpose without supporting any ecological function. Additionally, there is a need for public discourse and education around the importance of biodiversity conservation, as more and more people are losing touch with fast disappearing natural and ecological surroundings.

Vriksha Valli will not only increase green cover but improve native biodiversity in the city, help in carbon sequestration and add the benefits of education, recreation and utility. The project augments and increases biodiversity in the city by planting specific indigenous species to build habitats for the insects, birds and other animals that depend on these plants for their food and shelter. The aim is to provide opportunities for children to experience nature and make these gardens act as living textbooks. By incorporating educational signage and interpretive materials, gardens can help to teach visitors about the importance of biodiversity, the role of different plants and animals in local ecosystems, and the impact of human actions on the environment. This space seeks to convey the deep-rooted connection we share with plants and the urgent need to protect and conserve them for the benefit of current and future generations.


The garden focuses on promoting indigenous plant species of India. In addition to conserving and nurturing local biodiversity, the garden hopes to promote a deeper understanding of India’s rich natural heritage amongst the museum’s visitors while highlighting the unassailable and deeply influential connection between plants and Indian history and culture.
Apart from thematic boards, seed sculptures, etc., Vriksha Valli is apportioned into 5 unique sections (historical, butterfly, kitchen and spice, medicinal and vertical) to improve the learning experience for visitors.

Project Implementation and activities:

The various stages in project implementation and activities included:

  • Background research and design development: Desk research and field studies were undertaken to understand models of biodiversity gardens, topography and layout of the area, availability of sunlight and water, soil conditions, etc.
  • Selection of plant species basis the defined thematic areas
  • Hardscaping which also included elements such as drip irrigation system, thematic boards, additional lighting
  • Softscaping: plant procurement, supplementing of soil and manure, etc

Regular meetings were conducted between various stakeholders throughout the entire project duration.

The project was inaugurated on 6th May, 2023 and is currently open to museum visitors.

Implementing partners:

Centre for Environmental Research and Education (CERE) conceptualised and designed the garden. CERE’s team of researchers engaged in both desk research and field studies to analyse:
• topography and layout of the area,
• availability of sunlight in each section,
• water and soil conditions,
• existing models of biodiversity gardens,
• the climate and floral and faunal profile of the Mumbai area, etc.

In addition to the overall garden design, selecting plants and planning their distribution and layout (soft scaping), CERE also identified elements of hardscaping that would need to be developed and installed such as Drip Irrigation System with misters. Thematic Boards, Seed Sculptures, etc.

Project Partners:
Arvika Landscapes – Plantation Partner
Design House – Informative Boards
Richa Dingra – Seed Pod Sculptures

Source of Finance:

The Garden Project has funded by the H. T. Parekh Foundation and will be maintained by the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya Museum (CSMVS).

Challenges addressed:

Oftentimes vendors / partners are not familiar with the concept of a biodiversity garden or biodiversity itself. Educating partners is crucial not only for the success of the project but also helps partners propagate such ideas in their future projects. Procurement of native species can sometimes be a challenge and requires sourcing species from multiple sources rather than just one vendor.



Through this project, a supplementary space of 414 square meters was transformed into a source of knowledge and awareness for biodiversity and conservation. Apart from creating a green space consisting of 7,000 plants, the garden also is a repository and gene pool for the 200 indigenous species planted.

The garden is already attracting birds, butterfly and insect species and discussions are underway for a possible 2nd phase of the project which will focus on the educational aspects of the garden.

Lessons Learnt:

While various challenges kept cropping up during different phases of project implementation (water shortage, delivery of incorrect species, littering by visitors, theft, etc.) the most prominent learnings have been that many adults and most children in urban areas cannot identify plants that exist in their surroundings and that native plants are not being populated. This was evident when plants were being procured as most nursery vendors mainly sold ornamental plants which were in demand.

Scalability and replicability potential and conditions for success:

There is a lot of potential of creating such Native Biodiversity Gardens across urban spaces, at times on a large scale as well. Not only public garden but even private gardens can focus on becoming small islands of biodiversity. From an educational point of view too, there are quite a few open, unused spaces across various schools, colleges, etc which can be converted into biodiversity gardens where children / students can enjoy nature, indulge in practical learning and inculcate a sense of importance for nature.

Additional Information

Biodiversity and Educational Gardens | Centre for Environmental Research & Education

Additional biodiversity and educational garden projects:
Native Biodiversity Garden, Alibag
BPCL Butterfly Garden, Mumbi
Masina Hospital Kitchen Garden, Mumbai
Adenwalla Biodiversity Garden, Mumbai
Coverage in the press:
Head to this green museum exhibition in Mumbai to explore new plant species


Deepali Punjabi, Media & Communications, Centre for Environmental Research & Education

Email: deepali.panjabi@cere-india.in