The Forest Man of India

Jadav (Molai) Payeng was born to one of the indigenous tribes in India. As a child, he became disturbed by the disappearance of the forest on a small island where he liked to play. Erosion was turning the island into a sand bar. Animal life was also disappearing.,

When he was 16, Molai made a vow to plant one tree on the island every day for the rest of his life. At first, he struggled to find tree seeds to plant. He wanted to ensure the island continued a variety of tree species. Eventually, as his trees matured, he was able to collect seeds from them. This allowed him to plant more trees.

For years, Molai’s efforts went unnoticed. When a herd of elephants was being sought by authorities, they were surprised that they wandered into the forest that Molai had created. The official recoils showed no forest on the island.

In fact, the island has become the habitat for a variety of animals including tigers, rhinoceros, monkeys, and a variety of birds. While Molai has received acclaim in India, he receives no support from the government. He and his wife and 3 children live in a small hut on the island. He sells milk from a herd of cattle and buffalo he owns as his only source of income.

While Molai has received public recognition, at first he received no help. Now he is concerned for the future of the island as it has been discovered. People who have come to the island have not respected its ecosystem. Poachers are also threatening wildlife.

Hidden heroes often work in obscurity at least at the beginning. Climate change is a subject of grave concern at the national and international levels. It has been difficult to reach any type of accord. But imagine the impact that one man has contributed to our environment. Over a span of 40 years, Molai has planted 1.5 million trees. Think of the lessons he has provided to all of us. Each of us can play a role in environmental restoration even while governments struggle to reach an agreement.

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“Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” – Warren Buffett

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