Indian Man Single Handedly Plants 1,200 Acre Forest

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We all try to do our share in helping reduce global warming with small things like generating less trash, taking shorter showers or turning off unnecessary lights. However, very few of us do anything that can make an impact on the entire world, only because we believe we can't do it alone. It turns out, where there is a will, there is a way. 13-year old Felix Finkbeiner did it by spearheading a global tree-planting movement, and now there is India's Jadev Payeng who has planted an entire forest, single-handedly!

Jadev Payeng (Photo: By Bijit Dutta
CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Now in his mid-fifties, the nature lover was one of the laborers brought in 1980, by the social forest division of Assam's Golaghat District to create a tree plantation on a sandbar that lay in the middle of the Brahmaputra River. The project, which entailed planting over 200 hectares (494 acres) took five years, after which, all the laborers were sent home.

However, Mr. Payeng, who is nicknamed Mulai by the locals, decided to stay put and continue the effort. He not only nurtured the trees that had already been planted, but also, continued to add more. Over the years, the Mulai forest has grown to 500 hectares (1,235 acres) and is home to four tigers, three rhinoceros, as well as, hundreds of deer, rabbits, apes and birds. In addition to that, every year a herd of 100 elephants visit the forest for about six months and even give birth to their calves there.

Besides extending the woods, Mr. Payeng, who lives in a small house on the outskirts with his family, also helps protects the endangered residents from poachers. The amazing part is that this nature lover who makes his living selling milk from his herd of cows and buffaloes has never received any help from the government, except for occasional tree saplings from the local ministry. In fact, they were not even aware of his incredible work until 2008, when they were trying to track down a giant herd of elephants that had destroyed some property, and found them hiding in the Mulai forest.

The government is now re-focusing its efforts on the area and planning to extend the forest out another 500 hectares (1,235 acres). There is also a movement to try to get them to declare the Mulai forest, a mini animal sanctuary. Mr. Payeng says that if this happens and he gets the assurance that his forest and its dwellers will be well protected, he will move on and re-start the planting process somewhere else. Pretty cool!

Resources: asianage.com, odditycentral.com

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