An ecosystem is deforested. For housing. For urbanization. Cash crops. Farming. Among the many results: light pollution. Frugivorous bats are slow to return to the affected areas. The bats enjoy fruit, and defecate while flying. Their feces result in ‘seed rain’-part of a cycle by which new fruit can be produced. The deforestation causes more sunlight to reach the affected areas, and the bats are light sensitive; less able to feed in well lit areas.
Humanity often has a negative effect upon the environment. Often, but not always. There are times when humans give back. When they demonstrate care for the world around them. When they make the decision not to destroy, but to restore.
Nestled in Northeast India next to the Brahmaputra River sits Majuli Island, a giant sandbar that happens to be the largest river island on Earth, home to some 150,000 people. It is also the location of the 1,360 acre Molai Forest, one of the most unusual woodlands in the world for the incredible fact that it was planted by a single man. Since 1979, forestry worker Jadav Payeng has dedicated his life to planting trees on the island, creating a forest that has surpassed the scale of New York’s Central Park.
While home to such a large population, rapidly increasing erosion over the last 100 years has reduced the land mass of Majuli Island to less than half. Spurred by the dire situation, Payeng transformed himself into a modern day Johnny Appleseed and singlehandedly planted thousands upon thousands of plants, including 300 hectares of bamboo.
Payeng’s work has been credited with significantly fortifying the island, while providing a habitat for several endangered animals which have returned to the area; a herd of nearly 100 elephants (which has now given birth to an additional ten), Bengal tigers, and a species of vulture that hasn’t been seen on the island in over 40 years. Gives you more than a little hope for the world, doesn’t it?