“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” – Barack Obama. Every individual has the capacity to bring their own kind of change in the world and the story of the Forest Man of India, i.e. Jadav Payeng stays true to this thought! For the last 30 years, Payeng has been planting trees in Assam with a vision to rehabilitate life and has even raised a forest all on his own. Let’s dive deeper into Payeng’s amazing story which is now a part of the US School Curriculum!
Who is Jadav Payeng?
A quest filled with perseverance and unsurpassed passion, the Forest Man of India aka Jadav Payeng’s story will not only inspire you to be the change but also be a one-man team to lead your dreams! When Payeng was a young boy, he was foretold by a palm reader that his life will “take the course of nature”. The prophecy turned out to be true as he started his journey in 1979 as the Social Forest division of Golaghat district brought a new plan of tree plantation across 200 hectares of land, a few kilometres away in Arun Chapori.
“I was one of the first few farmers who worked on that project when it began. Even though it got over in five years, I stayed back while others left and looked after the plants. I also continued to plant more trees on my own.” Payeng told NDTV in January 2020.
Even after getting married and expanding his family, Payeng stayed true to his vision of planting more and more trees and for a long span of 35 years, he kept adding plantations to the barren area after crossing every hurdle to reach the sand-bar. With his continuous efforts, the very land filled with dead snakes and deforestation transformed into a lush and greener forest. The forest is now given its name after Payeng’s middle name ‘Molai’ and is referred to as Molai Forest.
The Molai forest that Jadav Payeng has created is the largest in the vicinity. Because of him, in addition to monkeys and several other forms of birds, as well as an outsized variety of vultures, the Molai forest currently houses geographical region tigers, rhino, reptiles, over a hundred deer, and rabbits. He wishes to extend his forest of Molai to the Bongoan of Majuli. At a bar on the island of Majuli, he planted and tended trees. A surrounding area of 360 acres/550 hectares of forest currently surrounds the Molai forest.
He has been honoured with the moniker of the Forest Man of India by Jawaharlal Nehru University in 2012 and has been awarded Padma Shree, by the former President of India Pranab Mukherjee in 2015.
Also Read: How to Become an Environmentalist?
The Forest Man of India’s Story is Now a Part of the US School Curriculum
It was in 2008 when a herd of some wild elephants strayed into the forest that led the government to know about Payeng’s lush reserve. The Molai Reserve is rich in flora and fauna with many thousands of trees, including Valcol, Arjun, Pride of India, Flame Tree, Silk Tree, Moj, and Cotton (Bombax ceiba). The Bamboo region alone covers more than three hundred hectares. The story of the Forest Man of India has now been added to the ecology curriculum of the 6th-grade at Bristol Connecticut’s Greene Hills School.
“The students are studying about Padma Shri Jadav Payeng as a part of their ecology lesson. The primary reason was to inspire and encourage future generations of the country on how a single person can make a huge positive impact in the world if he or she has the right attitude and determination, “ Greene Hills School’s teacher Navamee School stated to Deccan Herald.
This recent laurel is a proud one to be added amongst the many accolades received by the Forest Man of India. The Molai Forest and Jadav Payeng’s story is also the theme of many documentary films on the environment including the wildlife photographer Jitu Kalita’s film Forest Man! Stay tuned to Leverage Edu for more such informational content and don’t forget to check out our blogs on emerging careers, courses and more!