My earth hero is Jadab Payeng. Over 30 years ago, he began planting a jungle on a barren sandbar in Brahmaputra, Assam, India. In 1979, he was 16 years old. A storm washed a large group of snakes up onto the sandbar, and they all died in the intense heat.
“The snakes died in the heat, without any tree cover. I sat down and wept over their lifeless forms. It was carnage. I alerted the forest department and asked them if they could grow trees there. They said nothing would grow there. Instead, they asked me to try growing bamboo. It was painful, but I did it. There was nobody to help me. Nobody was interested.”
He has now planted a 1,360 acre forest that has naturally become a sanctuary to tigers and several other species. He is my hero because he demonstrates the tremendous impact one individual can actually have in protecting Pachamama.