In a world where most people don’t give the environment a second thought, Jadav Payeng has made bettering the world his mission in life. Jadav has committed himself to improve his island’s ecosystem every day. Because of Jadav, his island has turned from a near-wasteland to a tropical paradise.
At age 16, Jadav decided that he needed to plant a new tree every day along the coast of Majuli Island. His decision was based on a sad observation.
Jadav witnessed a group of snakes who had been killed after being swept along the Brahmaputra River. It wasn’t the journey that had killed the reptiles, it was the fact that they had no shade once they washed ashore. The snakes had died in the scorching sun. It didn’t take long for Payeng to realize that the snakes’ fate could easily be shared by humans on the island. He vowed to plant a tree every day.
His accomplishment is amazing. The coast is now home to a lush, thriving forest.
A Payeng grew, he became a vegetable farmer with the same unwavering dedication to plant his trees daily. His desire was to keep the island healthy and safe for everyone, and everything, on it. His dream soon became a lush forest.
His mission has never wavered during the past 40 years and his accomplishment spread farther than he dreamed. China’s sandy landscape took root with seeds carried along the river. Closer to home, Majuli’s forested area grew larger than Central Park.
By the year 2000, Payeng’s Mulay Forest was home to many of Majuli Island’s native species, including Bengal tigers, elephants, rhinos, monkeys, and the snakes that were behind the entire project.
Paying continues to plant his trees in the forest, unconcerned with his safety now that the wildlife has claimed the forest as their own. He claims he never feels threatened because the forest is his biggest home, and he still wakes early every day to visit his forest.
Majuli’s native islanders have reaped the benefits of Payeng’s lofty vision. Because of his forest, the inner island has been kept safe from floods. The forest provides herbs and foods to feed the island’s population. And through it all, the Mulay Forest is a beautiful reminder of how even one man can make a difference in his own world.