As India’s Jadav “Molai” Payeng has displayed, the world’s deforestation problems could be tackled better if every one of us played our part. In 1979, when Jadav was just a teen, he noticed the flood waters had washed a large number of snakes on the local sandbar. As the water receded, the poor creatures died due to a lack of forest cover. Payeng, who was 16 at that time decided he would give the sandbar a forest cover.
Payeng decided to live closer to the sandbar. He contacted the local forest office for information, and they suggested he try growing bamboo. With no help for anyone else, Payeng started growing bamboo on the sandbar. He sowed seeds, watered the plants and pruned them when needed. Eventually, a bamboo thicket came to be at the place that once just had sand.
Payeng then started growing more varieties of trees, and even went to the length of transporting red ants from the village to the thicket. It is believed that the ants are capable of altering properties of the soil and make it more fertile. Payeng transported them by hand, being stung quite a few times in the process.
The forest now supports a rich biodiversity in flora and fauna. Migratory birds and vultures have shown up, as have exquisite animals like the one horned rhino, the royal bengal tiger and elephants. The area of Jorhat, in the eastern Indian state of Assam now has 1360 acres of forest, all thanks to one man’s efforts and conviction.
Image: Gozef on Flickr