‘Green Ambassador’ of Uttarakhand changed his 1.5-hectare barren land into a lush green forest. He is practicing mix-forestry on his land since 1974 which is now abundant with around 56 different varieties of trees.
An ex-government serviceman transformed the barren land in Uttarakhand into a fertile and lush green forest. The ‘Green Ambassador’ of Uttarakhand not only saved the environment but also his 40 years of hard work gives confidence and hope that it is not too late to save our environment.
In 1974, Jagat Chaudhary was spending his vacations in his small village of Kot Malla, 4,500 ft up in the hills of Rudra Prayag. He heard about the incident of a woman who was severely injured when she went to collect firewood and fodder on far hilly mountains for daily purposes. Because of deforestation in nearby areas and villages, the life of women had become miserable. Since then he decided to use his barren land in the outskirts of village for the purpose of mixed forestry so that women of nearby places did not have to go so far places.
After retirement from BSF (Border Security Forces) in 1990, he dedicated all his life to renew the 1.5-hectare land he was left to work on. It is his hard work, dedication and devotion that today that barren land is abundant with around 56 different varieties of trees. The place where women had to walk long distances to fetch water is now generating water by itself. This forest has turned to be a home for to a wide range of flora and fauna.
He has also launched ‘Paryavaran Bachao Abhiyan’ and is seeking the prompt intervention of the Chief Minister for Action to be taken regarding anti-environmental activities.
The 26 species of trees like the Manipuri oak and deodar to evergreen grasses like teliya and namcha, 23 rare medicinal herbs like Salem panja (Dactylorhiza hatagirea), kuth (Saussurea lappa), sameva or tagar (Valeriana hardwickii), flowers like roses and lilies and climbers like the Barbati bean can be found in his mix-forestry. The trees are planted at the height of 7,000-8,000 feet altitude which is very rare at Kot Malla. It is almost has been 40 years since he is using mix-forestry on his once barren land. He also makes his own organic manure by digging pits, which he named as the ‘digging instrument’. He has been using traditional methods for farming purposes. Now he has been getting support from his own son and rest of the villagers to promote mix-forestry.
His work was first recognized when R S Tolia, IAS, highlighted his efforts in biodiversity and environmental conservation and his forest became the model for agroforestry for Uttarakhand. While attending a school function in 1994, he was honored with ‘Junglee’ title by his well-wishers. He has won the “Pariyavaran Premi” and “Him Gaurav” awards. He has bagged the prestigious Indira Gandhi Vrikshmitra award in 1998.
Even once a question was also asked on him in a popular quiz show –‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’. On answering the question of a reporter on the message he would like to convey to masses, his reply was “Practice mixed-forestry in your area to promote bio-diversity”. It is truly said. “If there is a will, there is a way”.