The Forest Man of India
The Forest Man is a short online documentary on how one man created an entire forest – nearly twice the size of Central Park.
The documentary was written and directed by William Douglas McMaster. Narrated through the voice of Jitu Kalita, an Indian wildlife photographer living in Jorhat.
A few kilometres north of Jorhat lives the Brahmaputra river. Every year during the monsoon season, the surrounding area is severely flooded.
One of the worst affected areas is Majuli island, the worlds largest river-island. Home to 150,000 people. Since 1917 Majulie has lost over half its land mass to erosion.
Discovering The Forest
Jitu explains how he often visited the island, as it was a source of inspiration for his work. After expressing the location’s sense of wonderment, he states that recent studies believe the island could be gone within the next 20 years.
One day in 2009, Jitu was exploring a barren area of the Brahmaputra river, when he saw what seemed to be a dense forest in the distance.
He was dumbfounded when he realised he had discovered an entire forest, within what he thought to be a barren wasteland.
Jadev Payeng – The Forest Man
After leaving the forest, Jitu began approaching a man he spotted in the distance. At first, he was mistaken for a poacher and was almost attacked by the stranger.
Once Jitu had explained his intentions, the confrontation stopped and the man explained how he had been planting trees in the area since 1979, thus creating an entire forest. This man was Jadav Payeng.
Jitu was so inspired by Jadav’s accomplishments that he wrote an article about him and his work for the local newspaper. this was the catalyst to Jadav’s fame.
Jadev Payeng soon become the local hero, better known as ‘The Forest Man’ of India. A title given to him by the former president of India – A.P.J Abdul Kalam.
Making A Forest
Despite all the attention, Jadev continues to live a simple life, planting trees along the Brahmaputra river.
It’s estimated that the forest covers an area of over 1,360 acres (550 hectares). To put that into perspective – Central Park in New York covers an area of only 341 hectares.
Jadev has planted every single tree himself over several decades. A truly amazing accomplishment.
In the documentary, he shares a bit about his philosophy towards his work and his views on the world. He says the only difference between humans and other animals is that we wear clothes. He also mentions how humans are the biggest threat to the planet, “There are no monsters in nature except for humans”. Expressing his frustration on how humans are destroying and consuming resources for economic gain.
His compassion for nature has attracted an abundance of wildlife to his forest, including 115 elephants who migrate there for 3 months a year. There are also other rare species such as rhinos, tigers and various tropical birds.
Jadev has won dozens of awards for his achievements, though, this frustrates him further. Moreover, he sees his work as a call to action for others and thinks the governments are not doing enough to conserve the earth’s natural landscapes.
Jadev Payeng is an example of how much difference one person can make. If he can plant a whole forest, then what could the rest of us be doing? This man’s extreme effort and optimism is inspiring, therefore hopefully his story can inspire others to take action and aim towards building a sustainable future.
If you want to plant some trees, click here.
To find out how you can be more sustainable, read this article.
Also… You can check out the Top 5 Eco Products of 2017.
The Forest Man – Film
To find out more about The Forest Man, watch the documentary here: