Jadav “Molai” Payeng spent 30 years single-handedly planting a 1,360-acre forest in his native India. The extraordinary, yet humble, eco-conscious farmer stands as a shining example of what one person can accomplish to make the world a better place.
Payeng makes a living in the forest he planted, rearing cows and selling milk in the nearest town with his wife and three children. He says, “I feel sad when I see people felling trees. We have to save the nature, or else we all will perish.”
In 1979, when Payeng was 16, he began planting vegetation to transform the landscape after seeing wildlife perish from exposure along a barren sandbar near his home in northern India’s Assam region. Decades later, the lush ecosystem he created is now a safe haven for a variety of large and small species that include birds, deer, rhinos, tigers and elephants impacted by extensive habitat loss.