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Why A Forest In India Is Named After A Man : Forest Man 'Molai'

Once upon a time, in the lush lands of Assam, India, there lived a young man named Jadav "Molai" Payeng. He was a simple man from the Mishing tribe,

but he had a heart filled with love for nature and a desire to make a difference.


In 1979, Payeng was just 19 years old and stumbled upon a shocking sight. A sandbar along the river Brahmaputra had become a barren wasteland, and countless snakes lay dead, victims of the scorching heat. This tragedy moved Payeng to action, and he decided to plant some bamboo seedlings on the sandbar.

And so, he began his life's work. Day after day, he tended to the young plants, nurturing them until they grew tall and strong. And as they grew, he planted more and more trees, until the once-barren sandbar was transformed into a thriving forest.

Decades passed, and the forest continued to grow and flourish under Payeng's loving care. Today, the forest is known as the Molai forest and spans an impressive 1,360 acres. It has become a beacon of hope for the environment, and Payeng himself has become a hero. In recognition of his tireless efforts, he was awarded India's fourth-highest civilian honor, the Padma Shri, in 2015.

This is the story of Jadav "Molai" Payeng, the Forest Man of India, and how he turned a barren wasteland into a thriving forest through his love and dedication to nature.

Molai forest was nothing more than a barren and desolate wasteland. But, with the determination and passion of one man, the forest has been transformed into a thriving and diverse ecosystem. Bengal tigers and Indian rhinoceroses now call the forest home, along with over 100 deer and rabbits. The sound of monkeys swinging through the trees and the sight of vultures soaring overhead are now common sights in the Molai forest. The forest is home to thousands of trees, including the himolu, valcol, arjun (Terminalia arjuna), ejar (Lagerstroemia speciosa), goldmohur (Delonix regia), koroi (Albizia procera), and arjun (Terminalia arjuna) (Bombax ceiba). Over 300 hectares of land are covered in bamboo, providing a perfect habitat for the elephants that visit the forest every year. A herd of around 100 elephants frequents the forest for about six months and their presence adds to the richness and diversity of the ecosystem.

In 2008, when forest department officials were searching for 115 elephants that had fled into the forest after causing damage to a nearby village, they were amazed to discover the dense and thriving forest that Molai had created. The department has made frequent trips to the location since then, impressed by the scale and success of Molai's efforts. In 2013, poachers attempted to hunt rhinos living in the forest, but thanks to Molai's warnings and the swift actions of the authorities, the poachers were unsuccessful. Molai's passion for creating a thriving forest does not stop here. He is determined to continue improving forest management and to expand his efforts to other areas of the state. He has set his sights on creating another forest on another sandbar inside the Brahmaputra, a testament to his unwavering commitment to preserving and protecting the natural world

Personal life

● Jadav Payeng is an Assamese member of the Mising tribe.

He used to reside in the house that he had constructed inside of his Forest, along with his wife and kids.

● Jadav constructed a home in No. 1 Mishing Gaon, next to Kokilmukh Ghat, in 2012, and moved his family there.

● They have been in this home ever since. Jadav, though, makes a daily trip to his forest to care for the trees and plants.

On his property, he keeps cattle and buffalo, and his sole source of revenue is the milk sales.

● Jitu Kalita, who lives close to Payeng's home, has received praise for his reporting skills after using his documentary to depict Payeng's life.

● On April 22, 2012, Jadav Payeng received recognition for his accomplishments in a public event hosted by the School of Environmental Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University.

● In an interactive discussion with Magsaysay Award winner Rajendra Singh and JNU Vice-Chancellor Sudhir Kumar Sopory, he discussed his experience building a forest.

● He received recognition in October 2013 at the Indian Institute of Forest Management's Coalescence annual event.

● He received the Padma Shri, India's fourth-highest civilian honor , in 2015. As a result of his services, he was awarded honorary doctorates by Kaziranga University and the Assam Agricultural University.

In recent years, a number of documentaries have focused on Payeng. His personal id served as the inspiration for a fictional film in multiple languages. The Molai Forest, a local documentary film made by Jitu Kalita in 2012, was shown at Jawaharlal Nehru University.


If you know someone this inspiring, or if you have done your bit for environment and climate change, then reach out to us here


Authored by Swetha. She is currently pursuing MSc Biotechnology at the prestigious Mount Carmel College, Bangalore. She brings an unique perspective in sustainability and climate change mitigation. She's an explorer and expert in Western Ghats, a biodiversity hotspot 

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