Incredible as it may seem, Jadav Payeng, better known by his nickname “Molai”, is responsible for creating a forest of approximately 550 hectares (almost double the Central Park, New York), on a sandbar of the river Brahmaputra, India.
55-year-old humbled environmentalist Jadav has shown the world that the will to achieve incredible changes in this battered and worn-out planet is enough.
When “Molai” was only 16 years old he discovered that thousands of dead snakes were dragged to a desert sandbank by a great flood. This shocked him to such a degree that he decided to do something to prevent it from happening again. The first thing he did was to plant bamboos, following the recommendation of the authorities to warn them of what happened.
His work continued in 1979, when the social reforestation division of the Golaghat district launched a program to plant trees on 200 hectares near Kokilamukh, Jorhat district. The project was completed 5 years later, but “Molai” decided to stay not only to take care of existing plants, but to continue planting on its own; Was determined to turn the area into a forest.
35 years later, his enormous effort and dedication have been worth it. Nowadays it is common to find in this forest Bengal tigers, rhinoceroses, deer, rabbits and elk, as well as great variety of birds, including vultures. A herd of about 100 elephants visits the area each year and stays for up to 6 months. In recent years there have been 10 births of these animals.
In 2009 his noble work and great effort were discovered; Authorities found the forest as they searched for about 115 elephants who fled after wrecking a nearby village.
Since then Jadav Payeng has received several awards, including the “Padma Shri”, the fourth largest prize in India that can receive a civilian. There have been several documentaries on his feat, but perhaps most significant is that the place is known as “Molai Forest.”
Thousands of trees have grown and a great diversity of animals have come to populate the forest, giving the landscape a radical change. This is a huge lesson for everyone.