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Man planted a tree every day - world needs more like him

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Man planted a tree every day - world needs more like him

PostAuthor: Anthea » Wed Aug 08, 2018 1:07 am

Jadav Payeng spent nearly 40 years creating a forest on Majuli

The man who has spent nearly 40 YEARS planting a tree every day on a desolate Indian island and created a lush forest that's now home to tigers and 115 elephants

    Jadav Payeng lives on Majuli in Assam, India, which is the world's largest river island
    He was alarmed by the erosion caused to the landscape by flooding and drought and started planting trees
    The father-of-three planted his first tree in 1979 and now his forest covers 1,360 acres with a mix of foliage
Blessed with green fingers and a determination to preserve the natural world, this is the extraordinary story of a man who has single-handily created a forest bigger than New York's Central Park.

Jadav Payeng who lives on Majuli in Assam, India - the world's largest river island - was alarmed by the devastation caused to the land after a bout of extreme flooding and drought in 1979.

In a bid to prevent further erosion to his homeland, the then 16-year-old decided he would plant a sapling in the barren soil every day for the foreseeable future and now, 39 years on, his woodland covers 1,360 acres (Central Park measures 840 acres in comparison) and it is home to Bengal tigers, rhino, vultures and 115 elephants.

Amazingly, the father-of-three's endeavours didn't come to light until the autumn of 2007, when he was accidentally discovered seeding his forest by photo journalist and wildlife enthusiast Jitu Kalita.

Kalita had hired a boat to take pictures of birds around the Brahmaputra river, which flows around Majuli Island, and while paddling through the shallow waters he spotted something unusual.

Telling his story in the documentary Forest Man, which has amassed more than 2.7million views on YouTube, Kalita recalls: 'I saw something strange… it looked like a forest far in the distance.

'I began walking towards it and when I reached it I couldn’t believe my eyes. I had found a dense forest in the middle of a barren wasteland.'

Payeng said he thought Kalita was a poacher when he first spotted him, on the hunt for rhinos or tigers, but he was surprised to learn that his visitor was in fact a journalist.

Kalita was fascinated by Payeng's story and spent time learning about his lifetime's work.

Payeng, who makes money with his wife by selling cow's milk to local villages, remains dedicated to his forest and says he will continue to plant until his 'last breath'. Payeng visits the forest daily and says the plants and wildlife are family to him

Payeng's story was picked up by national media after he met journalist Jitu Kalita in the autumn of 2007. He has nicknamed the 'Forest Man of India'

A map shows where Payeng's forest - known as Mulai Kathoni forest - is located in India

He went on to publish an article in a local paper that was then picked up nationally and Payeng was soon lauded as the 'Forest Man of India'.

Payeng, who makes money with his wife selling cows' milk to local villages, remains dedicated to his forest and says he will continue to plant saplings and seeds until his 'last breath'.

He said at first that planting was very time consuming but now it's much easier because the trees seed themselves.

Meanwhile on the wildlife front, stocks have flourished naturally.

But now the difficulties Payeng faces include threats from poachers and illegal loggers.

He mused: 'Humans consume everything until there is nothing left. Nothing is safe from humans, not even tigers or elephants.

Payeng said that at first planting was very time consuming but now it's much easier because the trees seed themselves

Payeng's work has been recognised far and wide and in 2015, he was honoured by the Indian Government with a Padma Shri civilian award. Many scientists have also highlighted Payeng as an example to follow

'I tell people, cutting those trees will get you nothing. Cut me before you cut my trees.'

Payeng's work has been recognised far and wide and in 2015 he was honoured by the Indian Government with a Padma Shri civilian award.

Many scientists have also highlighted Payeng as an example to follow.

Dr Arup Kumar Sarma from the Indian Institute of Technology said: 'Payeng has already shown the example that if one person can, at his own effort, do this kind of plantation, then why not others.'

Payeng says his dream is to fill up Majuli Island with forest again, with 5,000 acres being his goal.

The environmentalist, who is in his late 50s, explains in another documentary highlighting his work - the Voice of Trees - that he gets up every morning around 3am then goes to his special forest, which is known as Mulai Kathoni, using a boat and bicycle.

He says the lifestyle in the area where he lives is pretty blissful, with little stress.

Payeng says this is in stark contrast to bustling metropolises where people have little time to think about the world around them.

He says: 'Things are different in concrete forests (cities). Those people sit in air conditioned rooms unmindful of the pollution created outside.

'People are fighting with each other, people here don’t fight. They do their work, eat their food, breath oxygen and live in peace.'

In a short film by 101 India titled The Man Who Planted A Forest, Payeng reveals that he can still locate the first tree that he planted, with its solid frame now towering above him.

Standing next to the tree and patting its thick trunk, he concludes: 'Without you, I would not have seen the outside world.

'People from all across the globe come here now because this forest amazes them.'

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/trave ... India.html
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Man planted a tree every day - world needs more like him

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