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Manipur’s nature lover creates a 300-acre forest on barren land

Moirangthem Loiya determination paid off as he converted a barren land into a forest (Pic. Courtesy ANI)

Manipur’s Moirangthem Loiya personifies what a person with determination and hard work can achieve on his own. The 47-year-old man has transformed barren land into a 300-acre forest boasting of varied plant species in 20 years in Imphal West district.

Loiya, is a nature lover who hails from the Uripok Khaidem Leikai area began planting trees in Imphal town’s outskirts in the Langol Hill range and today it is a lush green forest.

Recalling what triggered this mission, he said: “In early 2000, after completing my college studies in Chennai, when I went to the Koubru mountain, I was appalled by the wide-scale deforestation of the previously thick vegetation that marked the Koubru hill ranges. I felt a strong urge to give back to mother nature which we humans as a whole have destroyed so much in modern times.”

Eager to start his work, he searched for a suitable place and finally chose Maru Langol. “I encountered the place accidentally while taking a hike and immediately felt the area which was all barren due to jhum cultivation could be converted into a thick green lush forest with time and dedication.”

He camped there for the next six years and living in isolation in a hut which he constructed himself, he went about planting bamboo, oak, jackfruit and teak trees. Interestingly, he purchased the saplings with his own money.

The 300-acre forest today boasts of more than 100 species of plants, and around 25 varieties of bamboo species and has attracted animals including the barking deer, porcupines and snakes.

For Loiya growing a forest and nurturing will be his lifelong mission while at present he works in a pharmacy to sustain his family. This month he is organising a camp for volunteers so as to protect the forest from wildfire ahead of the dry season.

During this camp the participants will create a fire line along the forest periphery so that the fire cannot cross into the forest section, he said.

Loiya has also started a Wildlife and Habitat Protection Society which aims to preserve the Punshilok forest and fight off illegal hunting and wildfires.