World Environment Day: Barren Sandbank to 'Molai Woods'
Intro: A 47 years old man started planting trees when he was just 16. Single-handedly he turned 1,360 acres of barren land into forest ecosystem in Assam and lives with rhinos, tigers and elephants.
Urbanisation in India has placed a barrier between human-beings and nature. People living in cities are well educated about the pros and cons of deforestation but they never step forward to overcome it. Whereas in rural areas, where most of the people are illiterate, but still they are seriously concerned about the natural habitats. One of the living examples of such people is Jadav ‘Molai’ Payeng, who alone did wonders by creating 1,360 acres/ 550 hectares lush new forest ecosystem. Incredibly, he has turned a barren land into ‘Molai Woods’, providing the habitants the company of elephants, rhinos and tigers, who live in the same forest. Payeng is an environmental activist and forestry worker from Jorhat. Over the course of several decades, he planted and tended trees on the sandbar of River Brahmaputra turning it into a forest reserve. The forest, called ‘Molai Forest’ after him, is located near Kokilamukh of Jorhat in Assam, and encompasses an area of about 1,360 acres. The forest, popularly known as ‘Molai Woods’, now serves as a safe haven for numerous birds, deers, rhinos, tigers and elephants — species increasingly at risk from habitat loss.
A little more than 30 years ago, a teenager named Jadav ‘Molai’ Payeng began sowing seeds along a barren sandbar near his birthplace in northern India's Assam region to grow a refuge for wildlife. It all started way back in 1979, when floods washed a large number of snakes ashore on the sandbar. One day, after the waters had receded, Payeng, only 16 then, found the place dotted with the dead reptiles. That was the turning point of his life. Not long after, he decided to dedicate his life to this endeavour.
While it has taken years for Payeng’s remarkable dedication towards planting to receive some well-deserved recognition internationally, it didn’t took long time for wildlife in the region to benefit from the manufactured forest. Demonstrating a keen understanding of ecological balance, Payeng even transplanted ants to his burgeoning ecosystem to bolster its natural harmony. Despite the conspicuousness of Payeng's project, forestry officials in the region first learned of this new forest in 2008 — and since then they have come to recognise his efforts as truly remarkable, but perhaps not enough.