Woman Speaks The Language Of The Forest
Tulsi Gowind Gowda, a 72-year-old environmentalist from India, has planted more than 30,000 trees and has been involved in environmental conservation activities for more than 60 years.
As a member of the Halakki indigenous tribe, Gowda comes from a poor family. Now 73 years old, she never received a formal education, but she is respected as the Encyclopedia of the Forest because of her impressive knowledge of trees, herbs and plants.
Karnataka is a state in South India known for its popular ecotourism destinations. Since she was 12, Gowda has nurtured and planted thousands of trees to help restore and protect the region.
As a young adult, Gowda cared for the seeds that were grown and harvested at the Karnataka Forestry Department. She specifically cared for the seeds destined for the Agasur seedbed. Gowda worked at the nursery alongside her mother for 35 years. She retired at the age of 70.
At the nursery, she worked to aid the afforestation efforts of the forest department by using her traditional knowledge of the land. She has not just planted saplings that will grow to help the world at large, but she has also worked to prevent poachers and many forest fires from destroying local biodiversity.
At the age of 73, Gowda continues nurturing plants, while sharing her knowledge with the younger generation to help spread the importance of environmental conservation.
In 2020, she earned the prestigious Padma Shri award for defending critical ecosystems. President Ram Nath Kovind presented Gowda with India’s fourth-highest civilian award at a special ceremony. After winning the award, Gowda explained that she is honored to have received the Padma Shri, but she values the forests and trees even more.
Gowda is known by environmentalists as the “Encyclopedia of Forest” and by her tribe as the “tree goddess” because of her extensive knowledge of the forest and all of the plants that grow within it.
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