Forest Man Of India
One day in the autumn of 2007, I wanted to take pictures of birds around the Brahmaputra. Everything was normal until I saw vultures and a dense forest around the sandbars. I couldn’t believe my eyes. In 1979, Jadav Payeng started to plant a forest. It all began with a dream he had to plant trees on barren land for small animals and birds to build their homes on the tree tops. No one, including him, had the slightest idea that his effort would give birth to an entire forest on Majuli island in India. He located a riverine island, a few kilometres out on the banks of the mighty River Brahmaputra, and began to plant the samplings. The lush forest covering around 1,000 hectares of land, is now home to wild elephants, tigers, rhinos and deer.
In 2012, India’s premier educational institution, the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) named him the ‘Forest Man of India’. “Payeng is a true conservationist who is working generously on the issue, and he has shown what an ordinary person with good motive and will power can do,” said Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi.