In 1979, Jadav Payeng, then 16, joined a forestation project in the Golaghat district of India, in the hope of preventing flooding along a desolate sandbank. The project was abandoned after five years and everyone left, except for Payeng.
Thirty-seven years later, Molai forest is now 1,360 acres – larger than Central Park in New York – the result of one man’s labor of love. His forest now houses Bengal tigers, Indian rhinoceros, and over 100 deer and rabbits. It’s also home to monkeys and several varieties of birds.
A herd of 100 elephants regularly visits the forest and have given birth to 10 calves in recent years. “No more global warming if everyone plants a forest,” says the ‘Forest Man of India.’
“In Paris, I asked the Economic Forum for Climate Change why they emphasize the word ‘economy’ so much,” says Payeng. “What value is the economy if there is no oxygen? I asked them to stop breathing for 2 minutes to realize the importance of oxygen.”