A lone man in India creates a 1360-acre forest
It all began in 1979 when floods washed a large number of snakes ashore on the sandbar.
One day, after the waters had receded, a 16-year-old local lad Jadav Molai Payeng wandering on the sandbar found the place dotted with the dead reptiles. The snakes died in the heat, without any tree cover.
Payang wept over their lifeless forms. He alerted the forest department and asked them if they could grow trees there. They said nothing would grow there. Instead, they asked him to try growing bamboo. There was nobody to help him. Nobody was interested. That was the turning point of his life.
He began burying seeds along a barren sandbar near his birthplace in Assam region to grow a refuge for wildlife.
Not long after, he decided to dedicate his life to this endeavor, so he moved to the site where he could work full-time creating a lush new forest ecosystem.
Today, the sandbar has been turned into a sprawling 1,360 acre of jungle that Payeng planted single-handedly.
While it’s taken years for Payeng’s remarkable dedication to planting to receive some well-deserved recognition internationally, it didn’t take long 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. Soon the shadeless sandbar was transformed into a self-functioning environment where a menagerie of creatures could dwell.
The forest, called the Molai woods, now serves as a safe haven for numerous birds, deers, rhinos, tigers, and elephants — species increasingly at risk from habitat loss elsewhere.
Despite the conspicuousness of Payeng’s project, Forestry officials in the region first learned of this new forest in 2008 — and since then they’ve come to recognize his efforts as truly remarkable, but perhaps not enough.