Thursday, April 29, 2010
Abdul Kareem’s Forest
Let me introduce Abdul Kareem, who hails from a small sleepy town called Kasargod, Kerala. He is a distinguished nature lover and a small time travel agent in the early 1970's. Right from his childhood he was passionate about KAAVU or SACRED GROOVES that every small village had one in those days.
In the early 70’s he often visit and spend weekends, in a nearby village where he walked around with his girl (later became his wife). And thus he noticed this barren land in this village. The barren hill sides was a painful site for Kareem, a nature lover and the passion for the sacred groove grew even bigger at this pathetic sight.
He had a plan. He bought some barren land. He planted mature saplings of wild trees in spaces between laterite rocks and initially ferried water from about a kilometer from the nearby village in a bicycle. He continued this for many summers. People around him started laughing at him for this crazy act and excessive spending of time and money on a piece of barren land back then in mid 1970’s.
"In the third year, when my plantation was but of young adult trees, the water level in the well rose!' he says.”That itself seemed an end for me and I began to plant the whole extent in frenzy." He bought more land and spend money on amenities.
He planted a range of wild trees and let nature took over and the rest is history. Birds started making nests, lot of reptiles and small creatures grew up happily. Even wild squirrels, rabbits, howls, mongoose and wild hens had colonized here. He also planning to bring in deer. Weeds grew with rare herbs and medicinal plants. He let the jungle grow naturally and never used insecticides or fertilizers. He trusted in the nature’s capability to grow without human intervention. He kept on adding land and planted more trees and the area is grown to a lush forest spread in more than 5 acres.
These varieties are not planted consciously by Kareem, but Nature did the magic through birds. But yes, Kareem had just kick started and Nature took over. Water levels in the nearby areas and villages within a 10km radius went up unbelievably high.
After 30 years now, today Kareem’s forest is a haven of nature-lovers, botany students, researchers and environmentalists, is also home to 1500 medicinal plants, 2000 varieties of trees, rare migrating birds, small animals and insects. He is been honored by various organizations and NGO’s including United Nations for his priceless and selfless act.
Agricultural scientist, MS Swaminathan, has called the forest a "wonderful example of the power harmony with nature."
In an interview he said "I wanted to spread the message that if trees, animals and birds survive, only then human beings have a future,"
The people who laughed at him 30 years back, now consider Kareem a blessing not just for the village village but a role model for the entire nation.
All we need is just a thought for a clean and green future and a mind to kick-start; then things will fall in line.
Great Job mister Kareem and more Kareems are need of the hour to ensure a Greener Tomorrow!