“The Man Who Planted Trees”
Can you imagine how big 550 hectares are? That’s 5,500,000 square meters – in other words the size of about 770 soccer fields. You have to admit, that’s a whole lot of space. And it’s that same amount of space that one man, Jadav Payeng, filled with trees in Brahmaputra, India, over a span of 30 years.
It all started way back in 1979, according to the Times of India . That year, a huge flood washed a lot of snakes ashore on a sandbar. 16-year-old Payeng went there, the day the waters had receded. He found the snakes dead, and that experience changed his live. “The snakes died in the heat, without any tree cover,” he said to the newspaper. When he tried to ask the forest department to plant trees there, he made little headway. Nothing would grow there, the department answered. He should try growing bamboo on the sandbank instead, they told him. So that’s what he did.
Forestry officials in the region first learned of this new forest in 2008. Since then, they’ve come to recognize Payeng’s efforts as truly remarkable. “We’re amazed at Payeng,” says Assistant Conservator of Forests, Gunin Saikia. “Had he been in any other country, he would have been made a hero.”
DateApril 19, 2012