Jadav Payeng Spent 37 Years Planting An Entire Forest On An Indian Island

In 1979 Jadav Payeng started planting trees on a small Indian island threatened by erosion and ravaged by floods that had led to widespread deforestation and animal losses.

Jadav Mulai Paleng aka The Forest Man (Photograph: Carlo Bevilacqua)

Jadav Mulai Paleng aka "The Forest Man" (Photo: Carlo Bevilacqua)

Thirty-seven years later and the environmental activist (from the Mishing tribal community) has single-handedly planted an entire forest –which is larger than Central Park.

His trees transformed into a lush forest spanning more than 1,000 hectares and are now home to wild elephants, rhinos, tigers and deer.

Jadav Mulai Paleng aka The Forest Man (Photograph: Carlo Bevilacqua)

Jadav Mulai Paleng aka "The Forest Man" (Photo: Carlo Bevilacqua)

In a short documentary film, photographer Jitu Kalita (who also lives in the Jorhat district) reveals the heart-warming tale behind Payeng, who has been crowned the "Forest Man of India".

It shows how a "modern-day Johnny Appleseed turned an eroding desert into a wondrous oasis."

Funded in part by Kickstarter, "Forest Man" was directed by William Douglas McMaster and won Best Documentary for American Pavilion Emerging Filmmaker at the Cannes Film Festival in 2014.

Watch the film below.

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Writer and photographer from South London, UK. If you want to get in touch please email me at: matthew.kirby@konbini.com