Indian man, Jadav Payeng, has been planting a tree every day on the once-barren river island of Majuli for almost 40 years and is now known as the "Forest Man of India".
Back in 1979, the 16-year-old Payeng, who is a resident of Assam, India, made a sad discovery on the sandy banks of the Brahmaputra River's Majuli Island.
Payeng witnessed several dead snakes scatter on the sandy banks. The creatures were killed due to the island's lack of shade, caused by flooding, which washed away the only little trees on the banks.
This gruesome sight stayed with Payeng, which inspired him to act. "When I saw it, I thought even we humans will have to die this way in the heat. It struck me."
Since then, Payeng decided to dedicate his life to transforming the river island and pledged to plant a tree in its sandy soil every day. His admirable act would eventually culminate in Molai Forest, a lush 550-hectare woodland. He started by planting bamboo trees and then later decorated the lands with cotton trees.
After years, the island has now flourished and is covered in all kinds of different trees. This incredible forest has since attracted a vast array of animals, including elephants, rhinos, deer, wild boars, vultures, reptiles, and even Royal Bengal tigers. Not only did Payeng's act saved wildlife and replenished a colourful ecosystem, but his afforestation project has even helped preserve the island's landscape.
The sandy nature of its banks left the land vulnerable to erosion. However, after many years of planting trees, the land is now protected from the forceful river.
The "Forest Man of India" has been praised for his years of dedication and magical contributions to the environment. However, down-to-earth Jadav still insists that he cannot take all of the credit.
He says that "It's not as if I did it alone. You plant one or two trees, and they have to seed. And once they seed, the wind knows how to plant them, the birds here know how to sow them, cows know, elephants know, even the Brahmaputra river knows. The entire ecosystem knows."
Referring to his creation, Payeng concluded that: "As long as it survives. I survive."