Meet India’s “Forest Man”

Meet India’s “Forest Man”

Jadev Payeng. 

This humble father of three lives his life a little differently from us. Every day he wakes up at 4 am and travels two hours by boat to an island where he grows vegetables and plants trees. 

Jadev has been doing this, every day, for over 40 years. He’s planted so many trees that he’s lost count and the island grove is so thick that it “shocked the forest department” when they finally stumbled upon it

Hundreds of thousands of trees now inhabit the island; along with wild elephants, tigers, and buffalo. When he started his mission, erosion and flooding had destroyed the forest there. Through his determination and hard work, the ecosystem is recovering. 

The dense forest, called Molai, sprawls over 1,300 acres. Jadev says he’s planting an additional 5,000 acres to “set an example of what one man can do for the environment.”

Nearby villagers have complained that the return of the elephants puts their homes and crops in jeopardy, but Jadev defends the animals, saying “man must adjust”.  

Jadev’s story is one of stewardship and connectedness with nature, something we could all use a little more of. 

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