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From the age of 25 to 75, this Kerala hero has been preserving forest on his land

K Nareendran at his forest in Karunagapally, Kollam, Kerala. Photo: Special Arrangement.

At a time when urbanisation is consuming every available plot of land, a 75-year-old native of Kollam in Kerala has been preserving a lush forest on his 50-cent plot, which he started growing right from the age of 25.

Though K Narendran of Karunagapally has only studied up to the tenth standard, he knows better than anyone highly educated about the importance of protecting Mother Earth. What’s more, his mini forest has evolved as a successful revenue source for him, with researchers, hospitals, and pharma companies approaching him to buy saplings, stems, and leaves of different rare herbal plants.

K Narendran has built the forest by working on the land for over 50 years, collecting saplings of rare herbs and taking care of them. His mini forest now has over 1200 medicinal plants, including dozens that are on the brink of extinction.

Narendran, a farmer by occupation, began this project when he was 25 years old, inspired by his father’s love for trees and rare medicinal plants. He took it up as his mission to create a sanctuary for rare and medicinal plants that are increasingly disappearing due to deforestation and urban development.

“There are several plants that are facing extinction. I just created a conducive environment at the available space for them to grow,” Narendran told “Open Digest“.

Narendran says that he is proud of his mini forest, which has become a hub for ecologists and researchers. “I am happy that I could preserve rare varieties of plants for future generations,” he said.

While a few plants like Pacha Eakanaayagam (Salacia Reticulata) are known for their medicinal properties to cure diabetes, plants like wild banana seed (Kallu Vazha) are good for arthritis, and Spikenard (Jaadamanchi) is good for sleep deprivation.

Despite the challenges posed by rapid urbanization, Narendran believes that a small effort by each individual can make a significant impact on the environment. “If we all do our part, however small, we can create a ripple effect that will benefit future generations,” he says.

“I make a small profit selling the saplings at an affordable rate. The revenue is helping me continue my mission to preserve them,” he said. Old age has never been a hurdle in his efforts to maintain the mini forest. “Though I’m old, it doesn’t deter me from taking care of my plants and trees. In fact, when I see the forest, it gives me a sense of relief and satisfaction. I am happy when I am in my forest,” he said.

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