Inspiration

by David Feather

We, the Friends of Southwick Country Park Nature Reserve think we are doing well with our tree planting etc, but just read this article about an environmentalist in India. It is inspiring.

“Jadav Payeng is better known as the Forest Man of India. He earned this name by spending 30 years of his life planting trees, creating a real man-made forest of 550 hectares. Thanks to this reforestation, wildlife has returned to the area. Incredibly, he did it all by himself.

The Friends planting trees

The Mulai Reserve is a forest on the Majuli Island in the Brahmaputra River near Kokilamukh in the Jorhat district in Assam, India. It has a total area of about 1,000 hectares and is under continuous threat due to the extensive soil erosion on its banks.

Majuli has shrunk over the past 70 years by more than half. There are concerns that it could be submerged within the next 20 years. To fight this, in 1980, the Assam Forestry Division of Golaghat district began a plan to reforest 200 hectares of the forest in one of the sandbars of the Brahmaputra river. However, the program was sadly abandoned in 1983.

After that, the forest was single-handedly attended by Jadav Payeng during the course of over 30 years. He began planting bamboo. Then, he continued planting other species. He planted and tended trees along a sandbar on the Majuli island. Majuli is the biggest river island in the world. The Molai forest now encompasses an area of about 1,360 acres/550 hectares of forest. The Molai forest created by Jadav Payeng is now larger than Central Park in New York City.

Bengal tiger and Indian rhino

Thanks to him, the Molai forest now houses Bengal tigers, Indian rhinoceros, reptiles, over 100 deer, and rabbits in addition to monkeys and several varieties of birds, including a large number of vultures.

The government only learned about Jadav’s forest in 2008 when a herd of around 100 wild elephants strayed into it. Since then, they are regular visitors to the forest every year. They generally stay in the forest for around six months. The elephants have given birth to 10 calves in the forest.

In his honour, the Molai forest was named after Padma Shri Jadav “Molai” Payeng, the Indian environmental activist and forestry worker who tries to save the island where he lives by planting one tree every day.”

What a man!

From website: Jadav Payeng: The Man Who Planted an Entire Forest by Himself (interestingengineering.com) which has some good photos

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