Amresh Naresh Samanta- an engineer by profession but an environmental activist by work, created 20 forests in only 19 years. His passion for plantation and caring for the trees transformed many barren lands into dense forests.
The wide deforestation caused due to rapid growth of urbanization and industrialization besides the devastation of green cover due to frequent natural calamities had a great impact and induced him to create forests to save the environment.
Why did you think of converting untapped land into small forest?
Twenty-five years ago, I was very worried about rapid deforestation. The tree plays a major role in our lives and without it, the environment will become toxic. So, I decided to plant a tree somewhere every day. On October 29, 1999, a super cyclone-hit Odisha, and as a result, a large number of trees in urban and rural areas got uprooted.
The damage to the green cover was massive. The sight had an impact on my mind. After that, I planned to create an organization with some of my friends to save trees. We named the organization ‘Baba Balunkeswara Gramya Bikash Parisada’. Before 2001, we were planting trees along the road and canals.
But they were being damaged by many people. So, we planned to create an artificial-forest an untapped land. For this, we first talked to the committee of our village and asked for permission.
After getting permission, we have been planting trees according to the size of the land. We planted a maximum of 1000 trees on a single patch of land. We are carrying out this plantation in Paradip, Jagatsinghpur and Kendrapada areas. We have already created 20 small forests so far.
What kind of plants do you plant?
We usually plant trees like casuarina, pistachio, North Indian rosewood (sissoo tree), pongame oil, curry leaves, Eucalyptus and Delonix regia. We lay thrust on planting fruit bearing trees. Moreover, we also plant small height trees because in 2019, we saw how the cyclone Fani uprooted the tall trees. And hence, to avoid such loss, we carry out plantation of trees with less height.
You have also built many nests for the bird inside the forest. Tell us something about that…
Many birds are currently on the verge of extinction. So, it is a small step to save them from extinction. We have done it in three forests. Two of them are in Paradip and the other one is in Biswal Panchayat. We have built many nests for the birds with soil and organic materials like twigs, grass and leaves. In the summer season, we provide water to them and during winter, we feed them.
What difficulties did you face in planting saplings on unused and unnamed land?
We have not faced any difficulty so far. We usually identify the land located in the interior area or the land of school and colleges, which are now closed. This apart, we also discuss with the Village Committee before we undertake plantation on a land. Now, we are planning to give this property to the state government and local forest department.
What is your objective behind doing this?
The loss of trees and other vegetation can cause climate change, desertification, soil erosion, reduction in crop production, flooding, increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and a host of problems for people. With the rapid increase in industrialization, the environment is getting polluted day by day.
People who live in nearby areas of industries are prone to many diseases. Our main objective is to clean the environment so that people could get some fresh air. To save the environment from Natural disasters is also our other objective.
Written By: Subhra Kar
Image Source: Google