This inspiring news comes to us from Assam, India.
Mr Jadhav “Molai” Payeng is known everywhere as the “Man of the forest”. He has been instrumental in planting 550 hectares of forest area in India over the last decade. He is a forest service worker in Jorhat village who has for the last few decades been planting trees on the banks of the Brahmaputra river. His commitment saw him planting over 550 hectares of forest single handedly, which is a huge achievement.
Now at the age of 57, Payeng is recognized and hailed by the residents of Kokilamukh in Jorhat, Assam. Because Molai planted the forest, the villagers address the forest as Molai forest, in recognition of his enormous feat.
Molai has seen the effect deforestation can have on human habitat by his own eyes. 16 years ago, floods had wreaked havoc on natural flora and fauna, devastating the sandbanks which were treeless and thus could not be saved. This left thousands of snakes without a natural habitat , where they wilted under the glare of the sun and died of dehydration. The impact on the snakes had a profound effect on Moloi’s psyche, who then decided to reclaim the devastated sandbanks by planting bamboo shoots there.
Initially, Moloi planted 20 bamboo seedlings, right beside the Brahmaputra river, and then in 1979, he started work in the social forestry division in Golaghat District. The initial goal was to plant trees on 200 hectares of land at Aruna Chapori which is 5 km away from Kokilamukh situated in the Jorhat District. After this campaign ended, the forest workers were reassigned, but Moloi stayed back so that he could take care of the saplings and plant even more trees. Till this year, Moloi has planted valcol, arjun, ejar, goldmohur, koroi, moj and himolu species of trees, ensuring a thick forest cover in the following years.
Moloi’s Forest is all the more significant because it became the home of elephants, tigers, rhinos. Deer, vultures, rabbits and monkeys to name a few species. To this day, there are 115 elephants in a herd which visit Moloi forest every year. Elephant mothers have given birth to baby elephants here and they find a very good environment in the Moloi forest.
The man of the forest, as he is called, does not limit himself to planting trees. Moloi also acts as a poaching deterrent as was witnessed in 2013 when he raised the alarm and got a band of poachers arrested by the authorities.
Moloi, the “man of the forests”, received an award from the School of Environmental Sciences at Jawaharlal Nehru University back in 2012. The next year, Moloi was honored by the Indian Institute of Forest Management. In 2015b he received the Padma Shri Award for his contributions to the environment.
Image Source: East Mojo