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This Man Turned A Sapling Into A Lush Paradise, And He’ll Restore Your Faith In Humanity


Most people don’t give much daily thought to our environment, nor do they go out of their way to ensure it continues to thrive. However, some go above and beyond to preserve nature, including this incredible Islander. He didn’t just love his island’s ecosystem, he was the reason it blossomed into a lush paradise.

A Massive Environmental Mission

Jadav Payeng may have been one of the most motivated teenagers in history. When he was just 16, he decided to take on an incredible task: plant a tree on his island every day. However, his project to revive the coast of Majuli Island wasn’t random. Rather, he witnessed a scene that saddened him into taking action.

Metro/Shutterstock

In 1979, Payeng stumbled across a group of dead snakes who’d been swept down the Brahmaputra River. The snakes hadn’t drowned. Rather, they dried out due to lack of shade on Majuli’s shore. Payeng worried his people would all eventually die by the same, scorching heat. In his grief, Payeng kicked off his mission to plant a daily tree, and it soon sprouted into an incredible forest.

From A Sapling To A Paradise

Across his lifetime, Payeng, who grew into a vegetable farmer, never swayed from his mission. He wanted to ensure a safe and healthy island for all the wildlife and people who inhabited it. He continued to plant trees frequently, more than any human could keep track of. And his simple dream soon blossomed into an entire forest.

Prudential/Condé Nast Traveller India

Across the course of 40 years, his saplings grew up and expanded into gorgeous woods. Additionally, the river carried grass seeds from China, transforming the sandy landscape into a lush paradise. The coast of Majuli became entirely unrecognizable. By 2017, Payeng’s Mulai Forest scaled larger than Central Park, and it seemed to hold worlds inside.

Reviving The Wild: ‘As Long As It Survives, I Survive’

Payeng accomplished his mission when it came to preserving wildlife on the land. By the 21st century, Mulay Forest was rich with animals native to Majuli Island, including rhinos, monkeys, elephants, Bengal tigers, and snakes. Despite the population of wild creatures, Payeng never worried for his safety. “I never feel danger in the forest,” he said. “It’s my biggest home.”

Furkan Latif Khan/NPR

His forest benefited his fellow Islanders, too. It kept the inner island safe from flooding and the forest’s herbs came in handy in local cuisine. Payeng truly restored an ecosystem which was on the verge of dying, reviving Majuli’s beauty. And after 40 years of maintenance, Payeng still wakes up early to tend to his forest every day. “It gives me power,” he shared. “As long as it survives, I survive.”

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