If one were to fence off a wasteland and walk away, in a decade or so, nature left undisturbed, would have restored a balanced environment in the land. But when man actively attempts to restore land, as at pointReturn, the design deviates from what nature’s might have been because man works within a more modest time scale. It must however be one’s conscious effort to stay close to the arrangement that most benefits a stand of trees. In essence, the success of any plant depends on three things: nutrients available to its roots, water to carry the nutrients up and sunlight to convert them to various plant materials.
At pointReturn, I began by first ensuring there was enough water to take care of the plants. The pond and the windmill do that. It is worth noting here that water used at pointReturn is well below the total water harvested from rains. To ensure even distribution of sunlight, I set out East-West lines using a compass. Several of these run parallel, 15′ apart. On each EW line, pits were dug, again 15′ apart. The idea behind this approach is to cancel out the shadow effect that one tree has another. Also the space between EW rows will be lit by the sun for quite some years, making them usable as growing areas.
Nutrients,the third need of a plant, remains. This was the only input -apart from money and labour- that was brought in from elsewhere. I added a good volume of rotted manure, vermicompost and oil cake in each pit . That should feed the plants for about a year after which fresh inputs need to be made.
Factors that governed species selection were as follows: variety, nativeness, hardiness and utility. The 36 species planted at pointReturn offer enough variety. None of them is exotic; they are well adopted to native geography. Hardiness is a useful quality when deployed in a totally abandoned and neglected soil. Finally, the selected species will have utilitarian value, in a sustained way, for the community that will eventually inhabit pointReturn. The list at this link, includes species names [including the scientific], links to images and some notes on their utility.
It is easier to visualise the pointReturn site with the aid of this drawing. [I apologise for the many details cluttering the sketch.] All the action has so far been in grids G1 and G2. There are four grove areas, shaded in pistachio colour.  is a small stand of Casuarina.  near the top of G1, is a grove of 60 bamboos. Grove  was planted in 2008 and Grove  planted in Jan. ’09. Total number of trees now being reared is 533.