Some say that caring for the environment is a lost cause, but this man has proven them wrong. Majuli, the world’s largest river island, had always been a dry, sandy, and almost sterile land lost in Northern India, but only until a milk seller dared to change the landscape and his environment.
We can’t wait to share his accomplishments with you, so prepare to get to know the story of the man who planted a whole forest all by himself.
When he was 16, Jadav Payeng witnessed a sad scene: Numerous dead snakes were spread along the edges of Majuli Island, an island on the Brahmaputra River. Flooding had dragged the creatures to the island where they died due to the heat and lack of shade.
Jadav was deeply moved and after seeing this devastation he made a resolution: To commit his life to revive the sandy, barren island by planting a tree every day. What started as a promise and a dream in 1979, became the Mulay Forest 40 years later. The land is bigger than Central Park and more than 12 times the size of Vatican City.
Thanks to Jadav, the forest has helped to preserve the local ecosystem and native wildlife. It’s now home to Bengal tigers, deer, rhinos, vultures, elephants, and of course, snakes. The afforestation quest has also made Majuli safer due to the trees anchoring the island to the mainland and protecting the area from erosion.
His gift to nature would still be a secret if it wasn’t for Indian photojournalist Jitu Kalita who discovered the unknown forest while on a trip to photograph birds in 2007. It would also be a secret to us if it wasn’t for Jitu Kalita’s documentary about Jadav’s achievement in Forest Man.
Happily, his efforts haven’t gone unnoticed and his work has even been recognized by the former President of India who gave him the title: “Forest Man of India.”
Would you make a commitment this big to revive your environment? Tell us how you would do it in the comments below!