When Srikanth G worked in Chennai, he looked forward to visiting his hometown, Gudiyatham in Vellore, Tamil Nadu.

He always craved the forests and greenery that his home offered, along with the sounds of the insects and birds around.

Over the years, every visit to Gudiyatham felt different. Srikanth saw the green cover reduce slowly and watched in disbelief as his hometown also became like a big city.

In 2017, his older brother died in a tragic accident, after which, the computer science graduate moved back home and started working in the fields.

He also started working on increasing the green cover of his town, by planting 1,000 trees in August 2018, which grew well.

He then wanted to restore and recreate a social forest on the banks of the Palar river which he would cross on the way to school.

Over the years, it was taken over by the land mafia and became a wasteland used just for sand.

The concept of social forestry is to involve locals of the region in the afforestation of unused wastelands, and to also protect and preserve them from rapid deforestation.

His efforts were soon recognised by local authorities and he was offered help by the then collector, A Shanmuga Sundaram.

Sundaram gave Srikanth 2 acres of land on the Palar riverbed to build the social forest. The 34-year-old planted 500 trees there at his own expense.

As he started work, the land mafia threatened Srikanth verbally and physically and slapped a case on him.

He was unfazed by threats by the land mafia and politicians and worked relentlessly towards his dream.

The collector stepped in and helped him recover the encroached land of 25 acres.

He also gave him 27 Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) workers for help, with whose help, Srikanth cleaned the forest and planted 7,000 trees.

Over the past 5 years, the 34-year-old has created three forests in Vellore and planted over 15,000 trees.

After the success of this forest, Srikanth has created a Miyawaki forest in a 1-acre land and another forest in Pernambut.

His goal is to create social forests in wastelands across Tamil Nadu.

“We are all busy earning assets for our next generation. I believe that increasing the green cover and building such forests is the biggest asset we can leave for them,” says Srikanth.