Twenty years ago, the Purulia district of West Bengal was facing a crisis. Water shortages, heat waves, erosion, lack of firewood, and biodiversity loss plagued the area until the 30,000 residents decided to invest in a permanent solution: the Green Mountain.
The district transformed a barren mountain and surrounding lands into an evergreen man-made forest. The concept restored the area. The vegetation provided renewed drinking water and the trees have prevented erosion and provided a home for increased biodiversity. The trees also offer a sustainable source of firewood so residents no longer have to walk three to four kilometers for fuel.
The project was funded by the non-profit, Tagore Society For Rural Development (TSRD), but the forest is regulated and maintained by local residents. The original project planted 300 acres and residents have increased this by adding 67 more in recent years.
The mountain is called Makino Raghunath Mountain after two environmentalists and is home to 72 varieties of trees.
In addition to safe drinking and farming water, biodiversity has also brought elephants to the area for the first time since 2005 and reduced mercury levels in the water supply. The trees keep temperatures down in the summer and the immense beauty of the area even brings in tourism revenue.
The ecological and societal benefits for the residents and animals of the region are extensive. It is amazing how planting trees can revitalize entire regions. Trees are certainly one of nature’s simplest and most innovative solutions.