The Greening Power Of One

A man in India has grown a 1,360 acre forest from scratch on his own – and there are some lessons in his efforts for all of us.

I’ve been following the story of┬áJadav Payeng for a couple of years now as it’s a remarkable achievement. Over the last 34 years, he’s transformed a barren sandbar into a lush jungle and he’s about to do the same on another sandbar. His efforts have been repaid by being able to eke a living from the forest he planted.

Obviously he’s put a lot of time and effort into this, but one of the comments following the TreeHugger story points out something very important – revegetation doesn’t have to be an all-consuming task; if you use local resources and learn a little about recognising local plants to avoid treating them as weeds.

In the case of Jadav Payeng, he started by growing bamboo – a hardy, fast growing family of plants native to the area. I’m assuming animals then also assisted with plant diversification; e.g. seeds from other areas were deposited in bird poop.

Back in the early 00’s, I propagated 300 native trees from seed and planted them on a property I had at the time. Every stage was very time intensive; from caring for the seedlings to carting a 25 litre barrel around the block in a wheelbarrow to give the planted seedlings a small drink every week.

Last year I moved into a house on a largish block where the previous owners had put in substantial effort in planting. Unfortunately, some of the species were not native. The hedge out front isn’t particularly heat, drought, wind or frost tolerant and those plants take up 90% of my maintenance time. If it wasn’t for their importance, I’d just let them die and may still do so in the future as water is gold out here. The front also has …brrrr… grass; but that’s another story for another time.

There are quite a few barren patches in the backyard; but thankfully there are also native plants about the place. These are shrubs and trees that require next to no maintenance. So all I’ve done is collect seeds from these – which are produced in abundance – and spread them around the bare spots; gently stepping on them to push them into the ground a little.

It’s a “survival of the fittest” approach utilising nature’s abundance – which is probably the best strategy for this area.

That is slowly starting to prove fruitful and I expect within the next couple of years the back yard will start looking more like the bushland once so common in the area. Some of the plants will be food sources for birds, bees and various critters, others will provide shelter.

Very lazy, yet productive – the perfect gardening method :).

We might not have the time or money to revegetate hundreds or thousands of acres, but we can do our bit to help the patch we are responsible for without it being too taxing.


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