Indian man who planted a 1,360-acre forest now plans to plant another

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Last year, we told you about Jadav "Molai" Payeng, a man who spent 30 years single-handedly planting a sprawling 1,360-acre forest in his native India. As word spread about his incredible achievement, the humble, eco-conscious farmer stood as a shining example of the what one person could accomplish to make the world a better place.

But as if all that were not enough, Payeng says his work is hardly finished. Now he's planning on devoting the next 30 years of his life planting yet another forest.

Payeng's story began in 1979, when he was just sixteen. After seeing wildlife dying from exposure along a barren sandbar near his home in northern India's Assam region, he began planting vegetation to transform the landscape. Decades later, the lush ecosystem he created is now a safe haven for a variety of birds, deer, rhinos, tigers and elephants -- species hit hard by rampant habitat loss throughout the region.

With his wife and three children, Payeng makes a living in the forest he planted, rearing cows and selling milk in town, but his life's calling is only half-answered. The tree-planting pioneer says he has his sights set on foresting yet another 1,300-acre sandbar:

“It may take another 30 years but I am optimistic about it," says Payeng, in an interview with Indian press. "I feel sad when I see people felling trees. We have to save the nature or else we all will perish.”

Although Payeng's mission began when he was just a teenager, alone with the sun on his back and his hands in the dirt, the result of his years of work not only transformed a barren landscape -- but also the notion of what a single dedicated person was capable of to improve the world.

“My efforts haven’t gone in vain," he says. "I may live a very lowly life but I feel satisfied that I have been able to stir up a lot of people who love nature."

Via DNA India

See also: Non-profit wants to clone the world's oldest trees to reforest the planet

Tags: Conservation | India