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The Forest Keeper

The true story of Jadav Payeng



NorthSouth Books

(pub.4.18.2023) 40 pages

Author: Rina Singh

Illustrator: Ishita Jain

Character: Jadav Payeng


" What can one person do in the face of global environmental degradation? Indian Jadav Payeng has proven that each and every one of us can make a difference. As a boy, he began planting trees on a sandbank in the state of Assam.

Nobody believed that he would succeed in doing so. But since 1979, a forest the size of Central Park has emerged, offering a home to countless animals and plants. It was not until 2007 that a photographer accidentally discovered the forest and made Payeng known to the world beyond India."

Tantalizing taste:

"Every day he took the bamboo seedlings, a stick, and a bucket and rode his bike to the river.

Thud! Thud! Thud!

All day long he dug holes in the sandy soul soil and planted the seedlings. His hands bruised and his shoulders ached, but he dug, and he planted. He made hundreds of trips to the river to bring water to tend the growing seedlings. It wasn't easy. In fact, it was an impossible task. But he was not one to give up."

And something more: The last page of the book explains that "Jadav Molai Payeng, a tribesman from Majuli, has since 1979 planted a forest on an abandoned sandbar where nothing had grown before... He labored in isolation and complete anonymity, and his forest grew so gradually that it went unnoticed for thirty years... The forest has become a migration corridor for a herd of more than a hundred elephants."


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