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Forest Man of India

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Jadav Payeng is the man dubbed as “The Forest Man of India”m as he single-handedly planted millions of trees and made a forest out of a lifeless land. On World Earth Day in 2010, the Government of India bestowed the title ‘The Forest Man’ on 65-year-old Jadav Payeng in Delhi for converting a desolate tract of 550 hectares of land (nearly 1300 acres) into beautiful lush green forests all by himself.

Forest Man of India

It has taken him over 30 years for the property to become a forest, and Jadav is protective of it. He began planting trees in 1979 and maintains to do so even today.

As per environmental researchers, the forest has been recognized as currently garnering 80 percent of the planet’s migrating birds. Molai forest is the accepted term used to refer to this special forest. The villagers named it Molai in honor of Jadav, who was fondly called ‘Mola’ in childhood.

How Did He Become the Forest Man of India?

When he was 16, conservation activist Jadav “Molai” Payeng witnessed piles of lifeless snakes, the victims of a terrible draught on Majuli Reserves, the world’s largest river islands situated in India’s Brahmaputra River.

Though 16 is a young age to comprehend much, he understood that things needed to be done to avoid this, therefore in 1979, at the age of 16, he began planting a tree seed per day in the parched land. 

Almost four decades later, his forest has grown to 1,390 acres, roughly the size of 15 soccer fields. Jadav abandoned his formal education to devote himself entirely to the forest. Jadav, the son of a buffalo trader, spent his early life in Assam, India, as a poor farmer from a disenfranchised indigenous tribe.

The Mulai Reserve, which covered around 2,500 acres, was once a wonderland. Throughout the rainy season, however, the river floods everything in its range, damaging homes and farmland and inflicting degradation.

Due to considerable soil degradation on its shores, the area is already constantly threatened. Each year the reserve has shrunk by more than half in the last 70 years, so there are fears that it could be completely flooded over the next two decades, displacing 150,000 people.

Payeng started with bamboos and subsequently went on to more varieties. The tree planting took some time initially until the plants began to provide their own seed. The number of residents increased as his woodland got thick.

Eventually, the jungle was teeming with thousands of birds in a variety of species, deer, rhinoceros, and leopards, as well as herds of elephants that strayed into his territory for 3 month period each year.

What’s Next?

Jadav Payeng, who was awarded the Padma Shri in 2015, believes that if emerging nations take necessary efforts to safeguard the ecosystem, the earth’s natural equilibrium would be maintained. 

Jadav Payeng, 65, agreed to a deal with the NGO Fundacion Azteca in December 2020 to work on environmental programs in Mexico, with the goal of planting 7 million trees in the North American country.

The enormous forestry initiative in Mexico entails growing trees on 8 lac hectares of land. So, our very own Forest Man from India is also on his way to earning himself a global title.

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