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They Lost Their Jungle to Plantations, But These Indigenous Women Grew It Back

“We planted dates, mangoes, jackfruit, tamarind, jaamkoli [a berry],” says Balo Shikoka, a Khalpadar villager. indigenous-women-replant-jungleForest officials notified the police, who soon came to arrest the villagers. “We said, Fine, we will go to prison for this. But you will have to take all of us—women, children, elders, everyone. We will all go to prison for the jungle. We’ll stay in your jail, but we won’t eat your city food. The officials just left,” Shikoka laughs.

“When they came to persuade us to plant eucalyptus and teak, we refused,” recounts Timoli Kurunjelika, another villager. “Even though they said, You will get more money.”

The soil, damaged by plantations, took time to replenish. The trees took years to regrow. But their efforts paid off, and today, after much work, the hills around Kumruka are flourishing with indigenous trees, plants, and flowers.  Read from the beginning...