“Forests are the lungs of the world”. The more we plant, the more we can live on this planet. While we hear of forests facing many threats with urbanization and deforestation, we also hear impressive success stories such as that of Jadav Molai Payeng. Jadav Molai Payeng, born in the missing tribe of Assam, grew a forest of an area of about 1360 acres/ 550 hectares! He was honoured with the Padma Shri in 2015.
At a young age, he met an agricultural scientist who told him, “Plant trees and they will take care of us” and gave him some saplings to plant for around 25 paise. When he was 19, he saw snakes dying due to heat on the sandbar of the river Brahmaputra in Majuli reserve. So, he planned to reduce the heat by planting trees and thus planted 20 bamboo saplings there. He took care of the plants and planted many more trees with his own effort. It became a forest, becoming a home to animals like tigers, rhinos, deer, and rabbits. With an aim to diversify the forest, he planted different varieties of trees like Valcol, Arjun and bamboo which cover over 300 hectares. Jadav has built a house inside the forest where he lives happily with his family.
His work became known to the forest authorities in 2008 when they went in search of elephants which damaged the lands of nearby villages. Then, he came to light in 2010 and was honoured with the Padma Shri and named the “Forest Man of India”. He is recognized as an environmentalist and marginal dairy farmer. His forest is called ‘The Molai Forest’ which is named after him and is located near Kokilamukh of Jorhat district, Assam. He says “Everything abroad is beautiful, spic and span, but there is no place like my forest”, which proves his love for the forest.
His love and care for nature and living creatures made him do this incredible work and gave him an identity in this fast-moving world. His life puts forth an important lesson- one single person can undoubtedly bring a significant change to our world.