Reforestation is such a lonely word

Reading time: 4 minutes

Reforestation seems to be the buzzword among environmentalists all around the world these days.

Perhaps, no other single person in the world has contributed as much effort as Jadav ‘Molai’ Payeng toward the noble cause.

Popularly known as ‘the Forest Man of India’, he has been reforesting a considerably large area in the heart of a barren wasteland since 1979.

The Molai forest

Jadav began by planting 20 bamboo seedlings on Majuli island, near Kokilamukh in the Jorhat District of Assam, India.

The lush green area is now known as the Molai forest (named after him, of course) and it spreads about 550 hectares on the river island.

That is more than five times the size of Putrajaya Botanical Garden, the largest of its kind in Malaysia.

Sheer determination

Born in 1963, Jadav started his project at the young age of 16 when the social forestry division of Golaghat district implemented a tree plantation scheme on an area covering 200 hectares in Aruna Chapori.

He was one of the workers involved in the project which took five years to complete.

When his fellow workers left the site, Jadav chose to stay there to take care of the young trees they had planted.

More than that, he planted more trees all by himself and determined to turn the formerly barren area into a forest.

Home of Bengal tigers

Now, the Molai forest is the home of animals like Bengal tigers, Indian rhinoceros, deer, rabbits, monkeys, and a variety of birds, including vultures.

Around 100 elephants visit the area every year and they usually stay there for about six months.

Thousands of trees

The trees are growing into the thousands now and bamboo alone covers 300 hectares of the Molai forest area.

Other trees include arjun (Terminalia arjuna), ejar (Lagerstroemia speciosa), goldmohur (Delonix regia), koroi (Albizia procera), moj (Archidendron bigeminum), and himolu (Bombax ceiba).

Accidental discovery

Jadav’s solitary effort at reforestation was only known to the public 29 years after he had started it.

Forest department officials discovered the Molai forest while they were searching for a herd of 115 elephants that had damaged property in the nearby village of Aruna Chapori.

They were surprised to know the existence of a large and dense forest in the area and since then, the officials visited the site frequently.

Photo: Dionidream


There was an attempt by poachers to kill the rhinoceros living in the forest in 2013.

However, they failed to do so after Jadav alerted forest department officials about the illegal activity.

Some items used by the poachers were then seized by the officials.


Jadav’s contribution to reforestation didn’t go unnoticed.

He was named ‘the Forest Man of India’ by Jawaharlal Nehru University vice-chancellor, Sudhir Kumar Sopory at a public event organized by the university’s School of Environmental Sciences on 22 April 2012.

Besides that, Jadav was honored with Padma Shri, the fourth-highest award for civilians in India in 2015.

He also holds honorary doctorate degrees from Assam Cultural University and Kaziranga University for contributions.

The President, Shri Pranab Mukherjee presenting the Padma Shri Award to Shri Jadav Payeng, at a Civil Investiture Ceremony, at Rashtrapati Bhavan, in New Delhi on April 08, 2015. Photo: President’s Secretariat

The story of Molai

The life and work of the Forest Man of India were featured in a documentary titled ‘Foresting Life’ directed by Aarti Shrivastava in 2013.

In the same year, William Douglas McMaster produced another documentary about Jadav’s lone effort.

The documentary, Forest Man, was named the Best Documentary award at the Emerging Filmmaker Showcase in the American Pavilion during the 2014 Cannes Film Festival.

Indian writer, Vinayak Varma also immortalized Jadav by making him the main character in children’s book, Jadav and the Tree-Place.

The book was published by an open-source platform, StoryWeaver and funded by a grant from the Oracle Giving Initiative.

Nurturing forest people

Despite Jadav’s relentless effort, reforestation has not been given serious consideration by the world community.

Timber companies keep cutting down trees in the forests without sticking to the promise to replant them.

What we need to do is to educate the younger generation on the importance of reforestation in conserving the Earth’s sustainability.

Let them grow up to be the ‘forest people’ who will make the world green and lovely again. – RED ANGPOW

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Seeding a new Earth story in Wurruk’an

Reading time: 4 minutes

Perhaps, the peculiar name of Wurruk’an doesn’t strike a chord with some of us.

I have never heard of that place too until I stumbled upon an interesting documentary about that community on YouTube recently.

The documentary titled “A Simpler Way: Crisis as Opportunity” was released in June 2016.

It was written and produced by Jordan Osmond (Happen Films) and Samuel Alexander (Simplicity Institute).

Where did the name come from?

To begin with, the word “wurruk” is an Australian indigenous term that has two meanings: “Earth” and “story”.

Consequently, “k’an” is a Mayan word for “seed”,

As a whole, the name Wurruk’an can be interpreted as the community members’ desire to express their endeavor to “seed a new Earth story”.

How did they get the idea?

It began with a small group of people who wanted to demonstrate a ‘simpler way’ of living based on the concept of permaculture.

For those who are unfamiliar with the concept, permaculture means “the development of agricultural ecosystems intended to be sustainable and self-sufficient”.

The term was coined by David Holmgren and Bill Mollison in 1978.

Back then, Holmgren was a graduate student at the Tasmanian College of Advanced Education’s Department of Environmental Design.

Mollison was a senior lecturer in Environmental Psychology at the University of Tasmania.

The location

What the pioneers of Wurruk’an had in mind had in 2015 was the idea of creating an inclusive gathering place where they can promote permaculture as an alternative way of life in the modern world.

They then decided to start their small community on a humble but beautiful body of land, water, and forest in the Gunai District of Gippsland, Victoria. Australia.

The 20-acre wide area is located about 2 hours from Melbourne.

About 40 percent of the land has been cleared for dwellings and farming while native forest still occupies the rest of it (12 acres).

The principles

Wurruk’an was built on these principles:

  • building a new world from within the shell of the old;
  • learning the skills of self-sufficiency;
  • experimenting with alternative technologies;
  • reconnecting with nature;
  • moving toward systems of renewable energy;
  • seeking to envision and prefigure a world that respects people, place, and the planet; and
  • provoking a broader social conversation about the need to transcend consumer culture based on notions of sufficiency, frugality, mindfulness, local economy, non-violence, and appropriate technology.

The activities

So, what the residents of Wurruk’an do every day?

All of them are involved in various sorts of community activities including farming, meetings, cooking, eating and building infrastructures especially houses.

Farm plots there mainly filled with fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, garlic, quinoa, pumpkins, potatoes, and zucchinis.

Animals like cows, chickens, ducks, and geese are reared here too.

Organic farming is practiced in Wurruk’an, in parallel with the community main objectives.

Cooking is done using wood stoves and foods are commonly shared among neighbors.

Buildings, mostly houses, were constructed from recycled or salvaged materials, costing as low as $400.

Photo: Wurruk’an Facebook

Simple living ain’t free

Community members in Wurruk’an are expected to contribute around $250 per month.

The money will then go to garden projects, designing new tools, maintaining infrastructures, utilities, internet, bulk food orders, and animal feed.

Enough is plenty

In their vision statement, the founders of Wurruk’an mention that the notion of “simpler way” doesn’t mean the community has to go back to the Stone Age.

They are neither anti-development nor anti-progress.

Photo: Wurruk’an website

Not surprisingly, the inhabitants of Wurruk’an still enjoy modern devices like personal computers, smartphones, and the internet.

As in the way they put it, voluntary simplicity is “a way of life based on very modest material and energy needs but which is nevertheless rich in other dimensions”.

Wurruk’an is also about “creating an economy based on sufficiency, knowing how much to live well, and discovering that enough is plenty.”


From time to time, Wurruk’an opens two or three slots for new residents.

Just check their blog regularly to find out when the opportunity to experiment living in a simpler way becomes available. – RED ANGPOW
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Free our oceans from plastic pollution

Reading time: 3 minutes

Plastic pollution in the oceans has been known as one of the main causes that endanger millions of marine life throughout the world.

Whales, turtles, dolphins, birds, and fish keep on perishing due to our reckless act of dumping plastics to their habitats.

Overall, eight million metric tons of plastic goes into our oceans every year.

plastic pollution
Photo by Catherine Sheila from Pexels

Maybe we did not commit the heinous act ourselves but our behavior might encourage plastic pollution to continue.

Some of us are even reluctant to support the government’s campaign to eliminate the use of plastic bags.

Malaysia is No. 8

In fact, Malaysia is currently ranked eighth among the top 10 worst plastic polluters globally.

Of course, this is not an “achievement” that we all can be proud of.

For your information, most of the plastic production in Malaysia is used for packaging.

Other uses of the material include making electronic components, automotive parts, household items, and others.

Kind of scary, huh?

Plastic bags or their microparticles pose a great danger to the survival of marine life.

Unfortunate incidents involving turtles eating plastic bags mistakenly for jellyfish are not new.

Fish, seabirds, prawns, crabs, and coral can also be the victims.

Whether we realize it or not, microplastics tend to find their way into our stomachs when we eat fish, prawns, crabs or mussels.

Plastic-eating humans

The worst thing of all, plastics have additives which can make them last for hundreds of years.

Some experts even estimated it will take more than 400 years for plastics to disintegrate.

Certainly, once those tiny plastic particles are inside our bodies, their effects on our health can be disastrous.

Animals have been found dead with symptoms like blocked digestive tracts or pierced organs, caused by plastics they ate.

Some of them have been starved to death because their stomachs were filled by plastics, thus causing them to lose the appetite to eat.

Although it has not been medically proven yet, humans may also face the same health risks especially those who love to eat seafood.

Plastic tsunami

About 50% of all plastics manufactured in the world have been produced within the last 15 years.

Besides, the production of plastics has increased almost 200 times in 65 years.

Photo by Shutterstock / Rich Carey / WWF

In comparison, around 2.3 million tons were produced in 1950 and the figure rose sharply to 448 million tons by 2015.

Not only that, production may double by the next 30 years.

Call for action

Clearly, we cannot wait until 2050 to find and implement solutions to the plastic pollution issue.

Humans will also feel the heat when the fish population in the oceans dwindle, thus causing less food to eat.

The solutions are quite simple yet they require strong political will and cooperation from the public.

Most importantly, we must ensure plastic waste will not enter our rivers, seas, and oceans.

To do that, we must improve the waste management system and recycling.

Product designs should also consider the aspect of disposable packaging, which has a shorter life than plastics.

Finally, all countries need to adopt policies that discourage the production and consumption of single-use plastics. – RED ANGPOW


ITALLCOUNTS & National Geographic

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Kissing canopies, looking so lovely

Reading time: 2.5 minutes

Kissing canopies are now becoming rare sights along the streets of our rapidly developing cities.

We can hardly see them lining the roads in residential areas these days, especially in big cities like Kuala Lumpur.

Sad but true, the very existence of green areas in our cities is constantly under threat from the seemingly unstoppable horde of urbanization.


What is the meaning of a ‘kissing canopy’?

Brent Toderian, a Canadian city planner and urbanist tweeted on this subject recently.

As in the way he described it, a kissing canopy is formed “when tree canopies above a street, sidewalk or path grow enough to touch overhead.”

Certainly, to make that happen, trees must be planted along both sides of the street, sidewalk or path.

Where art thou, oh kissing trees?

Kissing canopies are hard to find in the ever-increasing concrete jungle.

Yet, their scarcity makes them one of the most valued natural treasures that should be preserved forever.

Let us take a look at some of the places where the public and tourists can relish the beautiful scenery created by kissing trees.

Putrajaya Botanical Garden, Malaysia

Located in the administrative capital of Malaysia, the Putrajaya Botanical Garden covers an area of 93 hectares wide.

Visitors may expect to see an abundance of tropical trees forming green canopies along the walkways in the garden.

Royal Botanic Gardens, Peradeniya, Sri Lanka
kissing canopies
Photo: Grinnel Gallery

Established in the 1800s, these beautiful gardens are about 10 kilometers away from Kandy.

Besides strolling under the cool shades of tree canopies, visitors should not miss seeing the huge and spectacular Javan fig tree there.

The largest tree canopy in the world covers an area of 1,600 square meters.

Lomanstraat, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

The view of the renowned X trees here is exceptionally breathtaking and frequently photographed by tourists.

Lined by magnificent honey locust trees, this popular street in Amsterdam is located in the posh neighborhood of the Ouid-Zuid (Old South) district.

Paris, France

People always associate Paris with the views of Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe.

The city of love also has remarkable kissing canopies lining both sides of its pedestrian walkways and roads.

Nami Island, South Korea
Photo: T. Dallas /

This island is one of the most popular tourist spots in South Korea, especially among those who have watched the Winter Sonata telenovela.

Many people are willing to brave the cold winter temperature just to get themselves photographed between the two lines of metasequoia trees.

Last but not least…

It will be a great idea if municipalities in Malaysia adopt a policy of encouraging tree planting in cities and towns.

Besides, the green and refreshing scenery, planting trees in urban areas have many benefits as represented in the infographic below.

For the sake of environmental conservation, always remember that we need to plant more trees while at the same time, avoid cutting them down indiscriminately. – RED ANGPOW

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