Meet the Man Who Single-Handedly Planted a Forest in India

Jadav Payeng started planting trees at the age of 16. Now he’s known as the “Forest Man of India.”

Jadav PayengSiddhartha Kumar/picture-alliance/dpa/AP

For 40 years, a man planted a tree every day on a barren island in India’s Brahmaputra River.

First, bamboo trees. Then cotton trees.

“It’s not as if I did it alone,” Jadav Payeng says. “You plant one or two trees, and they have to seed. And once they seed, the wind knows how to plant them, the birds here know how to sow them, cows know, elephants know, even the Brahmaputra River knows. The entire ecosystem knows.”

He’s being humble. Payeng first began planting trees on the sandy island, known as Majuli, at the age of 16. As the forest grew, the island attracted reptiles, deer, wild boars, and even elephants, rhinos, and tigers. Thanks to his work, Majuli is now home to a 1,360-acre woodland called the Molai Forest.

Once considered crazy by the island’s local inhabitants, Payeng is now widely celebrated as a conservationist and known as the “Forest Man of India,” NPR reports. “As long as it survives,” he says of the forest, “I survive.”

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  • Who rules the statehouse? There’s never been a female-majority statehouse. Can it happen in Nevada this year?

    Nevada’s legislature is currently third in the nation for gender parity, behind Arizona and Vermont, according to Rutgers University’s Center for American Women and Politics. A little over 38 percent of Nevada’s lawmakers are women, while about 62 percent are men.

    But that was before a nationwide flood of first-time women candidates this year, such as Democrat Julie Pazina, who is running against a Republican incumbent in a competitive district.

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