On 30th December 2011, cyclone Thane hit the Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry with wind speeds of up to 83 mph (135 kmph), destroying many trees and damaging habitation and infrastructure, especially in the Villipuram District where Auroville is located. There are valuable lessons that can be learned about future environmental regeneration interventions from analysis of the types of trees lost.
Many of the reforested areas most affected were part of 'The restoration of the Tropical Dry Evergreen Forest (TDEF) of the Coromandel Coast' programme (see Environmental regeneration). Analysis of the types of trees that succumbed to cyclone Thane demonstrated that exotic species used as pioneer trees when regenerating the TDEF, were particularly susceptible. In some areas 60% to 70% of the pioneer canopy was lost. However, where there was an understorey of indigenous TDEF species, the loss of pioneer trees will be beneficial for the future growth of the TDEF trees. Sadly much potential income from the pioneer trees was lost, as they were very damaged.
The pioneer trees referred to are acacia auriculiformis, khaya senegalensis, cassia siamea and eucalyptus. In forests where these predominated, 40% to 50% of the acacia auriculiformis and 50% of the eucalyptus and 50% of the cassia siamea were lost. Also damaged were some large teak trees, khaya senegalensis and some bamboos. The trees that survived were mainly the indigneous TDEF species. Pterocarpus santalinus, terminalia arjuna and palmyra all withstood the cyclone. (Source: Auroville Today, February 2012 - see also press release)