After extreme flooding and drought caused devastation to an island in India, a teenager vowed to plant a tree there every day. Jadav Payeng lives on Majuli in Assam, India - the world’s largest river island - and he was just 16 back in 1979 when he decided to plant a sapling every day to prevent further erosion to his homeland, but he stuck to his word.
Now, 39 years later, Payeng has single-handedly created a forest bigger than Central Park in New York City. His trees cover 1,360 acres and the woodland is home to Bengal tigers, rhino, and 115 elephants. The father of three did his tree planting in secret for many years, but a photojournalist captured his good deed back in 2007. Now he’s nicknamed the “Forest Man of India.”
He admits that at first, planting was really time consuming, but now the trees seed themselves, so it’s much easier. Payeng remains dedicated to his forest and says he’ll continue to plant seeds “until his last breath.”