An Indonesian man single-handedly turned hundreds of acres of barren hills into green forests after 24 years.
Other villagers previously thought Sadiman was crazy when he first started on the project in the mountainous region of central Java, reports Reuters.
At the time, rivers and lakes in the hills were almost dried up due to fires made to clear the land for cultivation.
By planting thousands of trees over the years, the 69-year-old eco-warrior, whom many refer to as “mbah” (grandpa), has made water resources available in the drought-prone area.
“I thought to myself, if I don’t plant banyan trees, this area would become dry,” Sadiman was quoted as saying. “In my experience, banyan trees and ficus trees can store a lot of water.”
Sadiman planted at least 11,000 banyans and ficus trees in over 617 acres. The long and wide-spreading roots of the trees will help retain groundwater and prevent land erosion.
Springs have since formed in previously barren and arid areas. The water from the springs is now used in homes and farms for irrigation.
Village farmers were previously limited to a single harvest per year due to lack of rain, but the abundant water sources he created now permit two or three harvests.
“I hope the people here can have prosperous lives and live happily. And don’t burn the forest over and over again,” Sadiman noted.
According to Sadiman, he was initially ridiculed by the villagers for bringing banyan tree seeds as they “believed there are spirits in these trees.”
A villager named Warto shared that some people thought Sadiman was going crazy because he traded his goats for tree saplings.
“In the past people thought he was crazy, but look at the result now,” Warto said. “He is able to provide clean water to meet the needs of the people in several villages.”
In addition to bartering his goats, Sadiman also sells or trades a nursery of plants such as cloves and jackfruit.
Feature Image via Reuters