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Jadav Molai Peyang: Forest Man of India

Jadav Molai Peyang, 'Forest Man of India' single-handedly plants 1360 acre of forest on a barren sandbar.

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Indian Forest Man
Jadav Peyang, Forest Man of India. Wikimedia Commons.
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There are many international organizations that have been working to save our planet from many harms of deforestation but there is one Indian man who, single-handedly, gave rise to the forest in 1360 acre land and converted it into the man-made forest in India and that man is Jadav Molai Peyang.
Jadav Peyang’s story was first discovered by journalist Jitu Kalita when he was stalking the vultures on the other end of Arun Sapori, an over 1,000-hectare riverine island on the Brahmaputra when he saw the forested area and found Peyang’s story there.
The forest man has planted over 1500-saplings since 1980 which has grown into the famous, Molai Kathoni, the forest famously named after his maker. Peyang had started this initiative as a teenager who started planting bamboo in the woodland after he had witnessed deaths of several snakes at the shore when water had resided from the area after a flood. Following that horrifying scenario, he sought the advice from the village elders who asked him to grow a forest as only the forest can save the lives of birds and animals. Since then, Peyang’s Molai Forest has developed its own ecosystem as deer, rabbits, rhinoceros, Bengal tigers, birds, insects have inhabited the forest which consists of trees such as Bamboo, valcol, Arjun, Pride of India, silk trees, cotton trees, to name a few. But it was a herd of 100 elephants that brought the attention of Assam’s forest department on Peyang in 2008. The elephants pay a yearly visit to his forest and give birth to their calves in the comfort there.
But the journey of creating a barren sandbar in the middle of the river Brahmaputra of Assam into the thriving forest that it is today wasn’t easy.
In the initial stages, he found planting trees extremely difficult and time-consuming but now as he gets the seeds from the trees, the forest seems to live on itself.
The forest man was the first part of the 5-year project launched by the Assam Forestry Division in Aruna Chapori in 1980 with an aim to reforest two hundred hectares of land. Peyang enrolled for the job and started planting trees for the project though, the project was finished in five years, Peyang had stayed and spread his own project bigger than Central Park, NYC (842.6 acres). Since his first project, he has been invited to several environmental conferences, conferred many honors among which is Padam Shri, the highest civilian award and ‘Forest Man of India’ by JNU along with the recent honor bestowed on Jitu Kalita and Jadav Peyang by Taiwan Government for their efforts.
The forest man’s story is full of inspiration and compassion as he keeps providing shelter to various insects and animals while his family, which consists of two sons, a daughter, and his wife subsides on the income provided by their livestock, there is a lot to learn from him. He had braved several threats and all he has to say to them, ‘Kill me first, before you kill my forest,’ but his ideas for the world remains unknown among the several honors.

Samridhi Nain. Samridhi is a student of Philosophy (Hons.) from University of Delhi.

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An Application That Monitors Forest Resources And Helps Management

While the app is being tested in India, Khare said it can also be used in countries including Peru, Mali, Liberia and Indonesia

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forests
Traditional Toraja houses are seen in a forest near Rantepao, North Toraja, South Sulawesi, Indonesia. VOA

A web-based application that monitors the impact of successful forest-rights claims can help rural communities manage resources better and improve their livelihoods, according to analysts.

The app was developed by the Indian School of Business (ISB) to track community rights in India, where the 2006 Forest Rights Act aimed to improve the lives of rural people by recognizing their entitlement to inhabit and live off forests.

With a smartphone or tablet, the app can be used to track the status of a community rights claim.

Forest
A diesel ferry cuts through the Poshur river — the lifeline of Sundarbans — with travelers watching its heavily industrialized bank, which is rapidly increasing at the cost of world’s largest contiguous mangrove forest. wikimedia commons

 

After the claim is approved, community members can use it to collect data on tree cover, burned areas and other changes in the forest and analyze it, said Arvind Khare at Washington D.C.-based advocacy Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI).

“Even in areas that have made great progress in awarding rights, it is very hard to track the socio-ecological impact of the rights on the community,” said Khare, a senior director at RRI, which is testing the app in India.

“Recording the data and analyzing it can tell you which resources need better management, so that these are not used haphazardly, but in a manner that benefits them most,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Forest
The land-locked water body Lonar Lake Wikimedia Commons

For example, community members can record data on forest products they use such as leaves, flowers, wood and sap, making it easier to ensure that they are not over-exploited, he said.

While indigenous and local communities own more than half the world’s land under customary rights, they have secure legal rights to only 10 percent, according to RRI.

Governments maintain legal and administrative authority over more than two-thirds of global forest area, giving limited access for local communities.

In India, under the 2006 law, at least 150 million people could have their rights recognized to about 40 million hectares (154,400 sq miles) of forest land.

Forest
According to a report by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, the total remaining tree cover of India that included forests and non-forest areas was 24.16% in 2015. Wikimedia Commons

But rights to only 3 percent of land have been granted, with states largely rejecting community claims, campaigners say.

While the app is being tested in India, Khare said it can also be used in countries including Peru, Mali, Liberia and Indonesia, where RRI supports rural communities in scaling up forest rights claims.

Also Read: Recent Deportation Of Rohingyas Lead To Refugees In India To Flee

Data can be entered offline on the app, and then uploaded to the server when the device is connected to the internet. Data is stored in the cloud and accessible to anyone, said Ashwini Chhatre, an associate professor at ISB.

“All this while local communities have been fighting simply for the right to live in the forest and use its resources. Now, they can use data to truly benefit from it,” he said. (VOA)