Peoples that Planted Forests

By Liliana Usvat

The decision to plant a forest can be of a government or an individual.

Here are two example of peoples that decided they can and they did plant forest from seeds stating small.


Jadav “Molai” Payeng, a man who spent 30 years single-handedly planting a sprawling 1,360-acre forest in his native India. As word spread about his incredible achievement, the humble, eco-conscious farmer stood as a shining example of the what one person could accomplish to make the world a better place.

Payeng’s story began in 1979, when he was just sixteen. After seeing wildlife dying from exposure along a barren sandbar near his home in northern India’s Assam region, he began planting vegetation to transform the landscape. Decades later, the lush ecosystem he created is now a safe haven for a variety of birds, deer, rhinos, tigers and elephants — species hit hard by rampant habitat loss throughout the region.

With his wife and three children, Payeng makes a living in the forest he planted, rearing cows and selling milk in town, but his life’s calling is only half-answered. The tree-planting pioneer says he has his sights set on foresting yet another 1,300-acre sandbar.


It took over 20 years for the forest man Victor von Graff (1820-1867) to make a part of the burnt-over Donetsk step into a thick forest. Thank to that person Donetsk region has a unique man-made forest that is the largest in the world (more than 2,500 hectares). Velikoanadolsky forest is located in Volnovakhsky rayon of Donetsk region. This is “green lungs” of Donetsk region. In 1843 Von Graff started to plant trees being a young man. He was born in Volyn’(at the North-West of Ukraine). His farther was German and his mother was Italian, but Victor von Graff called himself a Ukrainian Cossack.

After graduating from St. Petersburg Forest Institute, he was employed as an assistant of the forest man in Yekaterinoslaskaya province (at present Donetsk region). His fist task was to explore the territory and identify a site to plant the forest. And he selected the driest Velikoanadolskaya wasteland.

Von Graff collected tree-seeds from local villages and planted them with his assistants. Then he protected young plants from hares and locusts. Bu the territory was dry and young plants died from hot winds. And Victor Von Graff planted trees again and again, selecting species of trees that could survive in hot step. They were oaks, maples, ash trees, lindens and pine-trees… Today more than 600 spices of plants can be found in Velikoanadolsky forest, and 37 of them are protected by law.

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