The Green Heroes of Uttarakhand

Forests are majorly responsible for sustaining life on this Earth but humans and our selfish activities have caused a constant decline of forest cover. This wreaks havoc on our ecology and is bad news for all life on Earth.  

However, not everything is all dismal. There are a few people who have dedicated their lives to protecting the environment. We’ve highlighted two such ordinary people from our own state of Uttarakhand, who are environmental heroes in their own way and have thought ahead for the generations to come.

Leaving A Greener Mark

Mrs. Prabha Devi Semwal – a resident of Palasat village, Rudraprayag in Uttarakhand – grew an entire forest on her farmland. Forests play a vital role in the lives of pahadi people. Village women head every day to the forest to collect fodder for their animals and wood for cooking their food. There was a phase when the people of Palasat village were struggling to gather resources from forest due to illegal logging and landslides.

Aged 67, Prabha Devi decided to plant trees in her fields to mitigate the problem. She started with planting crops to feed livestock and gradually grew an entire forest on her land. Now her forest is a home for more than 500 trees of all kinds including oak, rhododendron, cinnamon, soapnut (reetha) and many more.

From a very young age, Prabha Devi had been going to collect fodder and fuelwood but she never cut down a tree from its root. Her undeniable hard work and contribution have left a positive impact on the land and the lives of people in her area.

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Reviving Waste Lands

Not all superheroes wear capes! A.k.a Janglee, our next environmental hero is also the ‘Green Ambassador’ for Uttarakhand – Shri. Jagat Singh Chaudhary. This 70-year-old ex-serviceman transformed 3.5 acres of his land in Rudraprayag into a unique forest model. Jagat Singh was deeply moved by a tragic incident that took place in his village. A woman fell and died while hiking up the mountainside to collect fodder and firewood from the jungle. Deforestation had led to a decline of the forest cover around their village, forcing women to hike up treacherous mountains to gather resources.

Realizing the seriousness of the situation, Jagat Singh then started used his barren land on the outskirts of his village to plant trees to provide for fodder and fuel. But breathing life into dry, rocky and unproductive land and converting it into a lush green forest was no joke. It took him years of hard work and dedication. In between his job, he would clear the area of weeds and rocks and carry water for 3 kms daily to irrigate the land.

Forty years of Jagat Singh’s tireless and dedicated efforts have made the erstwhile barren and infertile land home to more than a hundred species of plants, trees and cash crops. Jagat Singh practices mixed agroforestry and his forest has become the model for agroforestry for Uttarakhand.

For his initiative and tremendous work in the field of biodiversity and environment conservation, he has been given many honours including the Him Gaurav, Indira Gandhi Vrikshmitra, and the Pariyavaran Premi awards.

Image credit: The Better India

Think & Act

“The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.” – Robert Swan

These two green heroes are living examples of selfless service to nature and are an inspiration for all generations. They started by bringing change at a local level and now many hands have joined their initiatives.

We must not forget that Earth is our only home and it’s up to us to save it from getting destroyed. Act before it’s too late!