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Abdul Kareem's Forest

By Brishti Bandyopadhyay; Illustration by Shinod AP

A lush green forest in the middle of a rocky wasteland. No, this paradise is not an illusion. Abdul Kareem has created it with his own hands.

Kareem's 30-acre forest is in Kasargode district, Kerala. It is home to 1,500 medicinal plants, 2,000 varieties of trees, rare birds, animals and insects. Agricultural scientist, MS Swaminathan, has called the forest a "wonderful example of the power harmony with nature."

Abdul Kareem's Forest, Features for kids: 154_1.gif So, how did Kareem manage to convert a wasteland into a forest?

Let us go back 24 years, to 1977, when Kareem purchased a five-acre rocky wasteland. Kareem was an airlines ticketing agent with a craze for the woods. Though he never went to college, he could talk about the properties of plants and trees like an expert botanist, reports The Hindustan Times.

Kareem dug a huge well and began to toil in the rocky, arid terrain. In the beginning, people thought he was crazy to waste his time and money on wasteland. But, Kareem has 'green fingers' (a term used for people who love nature). Soon, he began investing more and more of his savings to add land and amenities.

Today, the 'wasteland' is the haven of nature-lovers - from students wanting to explore the woods, to agricultural scientists. Kareem has been honoured by several organisations, including the United Nations, for his work.

He just let his forest grow naturally, without insecticides or fertilisers. He believed in the ability of nature to replenish itself without the interference of humans. That's why he does not allow fallen leaves or twigs from the forest to be removed.

Recently, Kareem even refused an offer by a well-known resort to launch an Ayurveda (ancient Hindu practice of holistic medicine) centre in the forest.

"I wanted to spread the message that if trees, animals and birds survive, only then human beings have a future," Kareem said in an interview.

Shouldn't we be listening?

Abdul Kareem's Forest [Features for kids]
By Brishti Bandyopadhyay; Illustration by Shinod AP


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