As a society, we all have contributed to the depletion of natural resources in some way or the other. Be it casually throwing a plastic wrapper or industries dumping waste. We have collectively played a role in depleting our precious natural resources, leading to alarming levels of pollution.
However, some individuals go above and beyond, taking it upon themselves to make a difference. These environmental champions are dedicated to restoring our ecosystem, planting trees, and making a positive impact on the environment, one step at a time.
Having a conscious choice about the environment is something that we all need to learn and adapt to. What holds importance abundantly is understanding the fact that we are merely just a part of nature and not the whole of it.
Why should we care about trees?
Trees are a major part of the environment that can’t be eradicated. Trees play a vital role in our environment by directly contributing to various aspects such as oxygen production, enhancing air quality, mitigating climate effects, conserving water, protecting soil, and fostering biodiversity.
For a lot of tribal communities around the globe, trees have been a way of life. For these communities, trees are the god they worship and their livelihood relies on trees heavily.
Here are a few unsung heroes who made the conscious choice of protecting the environment and creating a better, sustainable future.
Also known as the forest man of India, Jadav Payeng has been planting trees since 1979. Payeng has been the biggest contributor to trees in the Molai forest, Assam.
Inspired by the aftermath of a devastating drought that claimed the lives of numerous snakes on Majuli Reserve, the world’s largest river island situated in India’s Brahmaputra river, Jadav “Molai” Payeng, then a 16-year-old, took it upon himself to make a difference.
Source: One Earth
He has transformed the once barren land into a thriving forest, spanning an impressive 1,390 acres, equivalent to approximately 15 football stadiums, over four decades. Hailing from a humble background and belonging to a marginalized tribal community in Assam, Payeng dedicated his entire focus to planting trees and leaving behind formal education.
Jadav’s inspiring journey showcases the profound impact one individual’s passion and perseverance can have on the environment. In 2015, he was honored with Padma Shri, the fourth-highest civilian award in India.
A remarkable self-taught environmentalist, Saalumarada Thimmakka alongside her now late husband planted 384 Banyan trees stretching 4km along the highway that connects Hulikal and Kudur. She earned her name Saalumarada from the locals, meaning “rows of trees” in the Kannada language. She kept her strong will of planting trees strong even after the passing of her husband in 1991.
Source: The Week
In recognition of her extraordinary efforts, she was honored with the National Citizens Award in 1996 and the prestigious Godfrey Phillips Award in 2006. Saalumarada Thimmakka’s inspiring journey serves as a testament to the transformative power of individual commitment toward environmental conservation.
Pamela and Anil Malhotra
Pamela and Anil Malhotra, founders of India’s first and only private sanctuary, Sai Sanctuary. Through diligent purchase and restoration, they transformed the abandoned agricultural land in Kodagu district, Karnataka. Their story is one of passion, dedication, and an unwavering commitment to preserving the environment. Starting with a small piece of barren land in the Western Ghats of India, they set out to transform it into a lush, thriving forest.
Their journey began with a vision to restore the natural ecosystem and protect the rich biodiversity of the region.
Today, the forest that Pamela and Anil Malhotra have created spans an impressive expanse of 300 acres. Their forest is not just a collection of trees; it is a haven for countless plant and animal species. It has become a sanctuary for biodiversity, providing a safe habitat for a wide range of flora and fauna. The forest also acts as a carbon sink, mitigating the effects of climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Known as Gurgaon’s Tree Man. 37-year-old Deepak Gaur aimed to plant a billion trees. Since 2012, he has planted and distributed more than 600 thousand trees with a proposal for the government to join him in this mission.
Deepak developed an interest in growing trees after he met with an accident in 2010 which left him in a coma for almost 6 months. This life-changing experience taught Deepak the importance of nature and its preservation after not seeing and feeling trees and fresh air.
He realized that trees provide us with oxygen, and even if we cut them down, the remaining one percent can still give us oxygen. Trees do not discriminate between humans based on social class, religion, or ethnicity. They continue to provide us with oxygen selflessly.
An industrial engineer turned Socio-Eco Entrepreneur, started his journey of growing trees in his backyard. He founded Afforestt, a service provider for creating natural, wild, maintenance-free, native forests. He was working at Toyota in India when he met Japanese forest expert Akira Miyawaki.
Smitten by Akira Mayawaki and his methodology developed to make forests grow faster, Shubhendu interned with Mayawaki. He then grew his first successful forest on a small plot in his backyard.
Source: The Indian Express
Presently, Afforestt utilizes his car-manufacturing expertise to assist with a standardized method of seeding dense, fast-growing, native forests in barren lands. This innovative approach has enabled the growth of a multi-layer forest of 300 trees, even in an area as small as the parking spaces of six cars. In addition, the cost of growing these forests is remarkably low.
An entrepreneur, innovator, and software developer hailing from Chandigarh. Kapil Sharma co-founded and started SayTrees an NGO to fight climate change and save the environment and make the city greener by taking the message to different schools, institutions, villages, and communities.
Kapil has planted over 35,000 saplings all over Bengaluru. Kapil aims to restore 2 million hectares of land in India by 2030 and create awareness regarding the importance of growing trees in the context of growing globalization.
Source: Change Started
Kapil’s NGO, SayTrees, is driven by a group of individuals who are deeply committed to environmental protection. Their mission extends beyond their efforts as they actively raise awareness about the significance of environmental conservation and encourage others to engage in tree plantation campaigns. What initially began as a weekend endeavor in 2007 has now evolved into a remarkable initiative, conducting over 50 tree plantation drives within the span of four monsoon months.
An inspector in Kerala Police, V Vidyadharan not only serves the public but also contributes to the welfare of nature by planting trees and making conscious choices.
Source: Deccan Chronicle
He has diligently planted trees along the roads of southern Alappuzha in Kerala for 40 years. Even in his police jeep, he actively transports saplings, showcasing his deep love for trees. His dedication to trees is so profound that he went to the extent of distributing saplings as return gifts during his daughter’s wedding.
Shyam Sunder Jyani
Shyam Sunder Jyani, an associate professor at Government Dungar College, Bikaner along with his student took a step to revive Neem trees on the college campus. He dedicated his efforts to planting saplings for another 11 years.
On September 28, 2021, Shyaqm Sundar Jyani was awarded the world’s highest award ‘The Land for Life Award’ for land conservation. He was given this award for family forestry, under the international category, at the online global ceremony held in Boon, China.
By persuading the village folks about the benefits of trees, not only for shade but also as fodder, the Shyam has successfully initiated a mass movement in western Rajasthan. To this day, his efforts have resulted in the planting of over 6,25,000 saplings across 15 to 20 Gram Panchayats.
Delhi-based CEO of Plantology, Radhika Anand planted over 1,10,000 fruit trees using her own resources, savings, and small contributions from friends and well-wishers to fund this endeavor.
Radhika started with waste management to create something impactful for the environment but it didn’t work out. After a lot of thought, she began planting fruit trees to conserve and give back to nature.
In pursuit of her dream, Anand initially approached the Delhi government, who responded by acknowledging the brilliance of her idea but questioning the availability of land. Undeterred, she then approached the central government, only to be informed that no funds were available for her project.
Anand recalled a senior officer questioning the responsibility of watering the plants. Exhausting her options, she turned to the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry, but they were also unable to provide assistance. It was at this point that she decided to fund her project, Mission Falvan, using her own earnings.
Radhika has planted 110,000 fruit trees in a single year across army cantonments in Delhi, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Maharashtra, and Rajasthan.
They’re doing their part. We must do ours.
In conclusion, these inspiring stories of Indians taking action and planting trees for a greener environment showcase the immense dedication and passion of individuals toward environmental conservation. Their tireless efforts in planting saplings, spreading awareness, and overcoming obstacles demonstrate the power of collective action in making a positive impact on the planet.
Through their initiatives, they inspire others to join the cause and contribute to creating a sustainable and greener future for generations to come. These stories serve as reminders that even small actions can lead to significant changes, and individual has the power to make a difference in protecting and nurturing our environment.
They’re doing their part. We must now do ours!