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The Hero Who Returned to India to Single-Handedly Grow a Forest

Abdul Kareem from Kerala single-handedly turned 27 acres of barren land into a flourishing forest of 5000 trees that today hosts innumerable varieties of flora and fauna.

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With mass deforestation being a major contributor to climate change, a few unsung heroes are doing all they can to make sure it’s not too late to save the environment.

One such hero is 74-year-old Abdul Kareem from Kerala’s Kasaragod. For the last few decades, he has single-handedly been growing a mini forest on 27 acres of land to provide shelter to innumerable species of birds, wild animals, and medicinal plants.

Kareem, who worked in the Gulf in the 70s, was inspired by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founding father of UAE, who embarked upon a programme to turn the desert green by planting trees. When Kareem returned home in 1977, he bought 5 acres of barren land on a hillside in his hometown for Rs 3,750.

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“There were no trees, water or houses nearby. There was just rocky land,” he tells The Better India.

But despite a herculean task ahead of him and criticism from his family and neighbours, this one-man-army powered through to fulfil his dream.

He spent his time carrying water cans on a two-wheeler to grow the saplings, which turned to hundreds of lush trees over the years. This 5-acre forest was soon expanded to 27 acres, with more than 5,000 varieties of trees, as well as thousands of birds and animals.

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In 1983, to take closer care of his hard work, Kareem built a house inside the forest, where he has been living with his family ever since.

Watch how this hero overcame several setbacks, and why he remains inspired to continue his heartfelt endeavour:

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