In the dense rainforests of Karnataka’s Honnali, an 80-year-old lady is occupied in carefully cutting down healthy branches from the trees to use them to plant new trees and one can see her eyes shining when she talks about novel species of trees and seeds. She is indeed a walking encyclopaedia on the topic, despite her not receiving formal education.
The lady is Tulsi Govind Gowda and she says, “When I look at these forests filled with green trees, I come to the conclusion that humans can indeed become prosperous even without cutting them”.
Tulsi has dedicated all of her life in turning barren lands to forested areas in the state of Karnataka and the world knew about her noble deed when she was felicitated with the Padma Award for environment protection. Even when receiving the award, Tulsi could be seen wearing traditional Adivasi attire with bare feet because she has never worn footwear her whole life.
After she received the honour, her house keeps on witnessing a larg number of visitors, the other villagers respect her a lot and children love to click selfies with her. School children often visit her home, which she shares with ten of her family members.
As per Tulsi, there is immense happiness in telling children about the information related to plants and that it is important to teach them the value of trees. Although the memories are vague, but Tulsi had started planting trees and looking after them from the age of 12. Opposite to other villagers, she planted trees to prevent deforestation.
As a kid, Tulsi used to visit the jungle with her mother who had taught her to plant new trees with the help of seeds from fresh trees. As stated by local forest department officials and other people, she had turned the barren land behind her house into a forest when she was just a teenager.
Tulsi has been looking after and talking to the trees planted by her since childhood, just like a mother would talk to her baby and even for treatments, she and her tribe uses medicines derived from plants only. Indeed, trees and plants are Tulsi’s most favourite possessions.