Man Single-Handedly Grows 300-Acre Forest, Creating Habitat for 250 Species

January 28, 2020 at 11:25 pm

This man gave up a medical career and 18 years of his life to restore 300 acres of deforested public land

When an Indian man returned home after college, he was devastated to find his once-lush green village a desolate wasteland.

Growing up Moirangthem Loiya remembered climbing to the peak of a mountain near his home and looking down at thick forest below as far as he could see.

When he climbed it again in 2000, the view was much different. The pristine forest was marred by housing developments and large patches of bald earth, clear-cut and left barren by agriculture.

In 2002, he set out to find the most decimated patch of forest he could near his home in Manipur, a state in Northern India.

He found a 300-acre plot in the Maru Langol hill range, in the foothills of the Himalayas, with not one tree in sight. The public land – in the middle of a national forest – had been burned by locals for rice-cultivation.

This would be his spot, where he’d spent the next 18 years of his life recreating paradise, he decided.

Loiya quit his job in the medical field, built a hut in the naked patch of soon-to-be woods, and started planting trees… bamboo, oak, ficus, magnolia, teak and jackfruit trees, to name a few.

18 years later, Loiya’s own little Garden of Eden is home to 250 species of plants and animals, many of which might’ve been lost to the region forever without his efforts.

He named it Punshilock – or “spring of life” – after the natural spring that runs through the land.

The spring has helped the forest grow faster than it otherwise would, Loiya tells The Times of India.

The forest is now home to a wide variety of wild animals including leopard cats, mongoose, pangolin, porcupine, barking deer, snakes and birds.

“I consider myself a painter,” Loiya says.

“Other artists use canvas, brush and color to paint, but I used a the face of the hills as my canvas and planted trees and flowers to paint. It’s taken a lifetime to draw this. It’s living art.”

At first it was hard to convince local peasant farmers not to cut the trees he’s planted for firewood or to poach the animals who took safe haven there.

So Loiya got a group of friends together and formed the Wildlife and Habitat Protection Society to look after Punshilock and educate locals on the importance of preserving the forest.

Now the forest has the support of the local government and attracts visitors from around the world.