Environment: Making it better wherever you are
Go Plant a Tree
Jadav Payeng lives in Assam, India. As a young teenager, in 1979, he began to notice that the birds and other wildlife were dwindling in number. He approached local community leaders about it. He learned that deforestation was the problem. The leaders included him on a special reforestation project. His assignment was to plant bamboo saplings to prevent further soil erosion on the land which had become a vast sandbar. The program was to last five years. After three years, the adults abandoned the effort. However, Jadav carried on, convinced that reforestation was the answer to the decline in the wildlife that he loved so dearly. Jadav continued to plant bamboo and decided to plant other more high-quality trees to encourage diversity in hopes that a variety of animals would return. He did all this work on his own, without any assistance.
Now, thirty five years later, Jadav’s relentless one-man reforestation work has produced a forest nearly twice the size of Central Park in New York! The wildlife has returned along with some unexpected animals as well, like endangered tigers, elephants and rhinos who have found refuge in the lush landscape. Jadav purposely planted trees that these animals find attractive, like a certain banana that the elephants love.
Jadav is a married man, with three teenage children, who help him manage his herd of milk cows which provide a steady income for the family. After his daily work with the herd, Jadav heads out for his forest where he continues to plant more trees to this day.
In appreciation of his single handed efforts, the Assam government has named the forest he helped grow after him, as Mulai Kathoni Bari or the forest of Mulai, Payeng’s pet name. In 2012, India’s premier educational institution, the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) named him the ‘Forest Man of India’.
Jadav remains passionate about his mission and advises all who listen to go plant a tree. If every school child planted two trees, he relates, those two trees would provide enough oxygen for that one child. Just think if all seven billion of us planted two trees...
A film about Jadav’s work took awards at the Cannes Film Festival.
For more on the story, here is the link to the article in aljazeera.com