Spots of greenery in India are few and far between but the North East regions are blessed with many more than most. However even there, spots of desolation can be found. Punshilok Hill in the Langol Range of Manipur, 6 km from the capital Imphal was always known as a barren, lifeless area but 2003 a group of determined youngsters in the area decided to take matters into their own hands.
Moirangthem Loiya Ngamba, founder of the NGO, Wildlife and Habitat Protection Society (WAHPS) was searching for a site to curate a garden when he first came across Punshilok Hill. The name Punshilok translates to Spring of Life,’ and in the past it had once been an important forest during the reign of King Luwang Ningthou Punshib, but years of farming, fires and deforestation left the area in ruin.
With some friends he began the arduous task of clearing the hill of all the rocks and weeds that had overtaken the natural greenery. The next major task was cleaning and de-silting the riverbed to provide clean drinking water to the valley below. The last stage was tackling the reforestation, dozens of people showed up to contribute to their efforts and Moirangthem even decided to relocate to Punshilok so he could be on-site at all times.
With his relentless care, the hill was soon once again a verdant paradise and wild animals slowly started returning to the area. To protect this multiplying wildlife Moirangthem hired a team who oversaw the are and prevented poaching and vandalism. They was also cautious about preparing for and future mishaps and every November he and a group from WAHPS would camp out on the hill and create fire lines. (Gaps in the tree cover to prevent the spread of a forest fire).
Today the hill and its surroundings are thriving, with hundreds of birds and animals as well as over 200 species of plants and 20 types of bamboo. These assets have provided a new source of income for the locals and has improved the ecosystem of the entire area. They even have eco-homes on site where visitors and volunteers can spend some time truly experiencing the lush forest around them. This tiny initiative had a massive impact and it proves without a doubt that humans are capable of making amends for the many injustices they’ve heaped on Mother Earth, all it takes is a little determination and a lot of love.
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