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Forest Man of Kasaragod – Abdul Kareem

  • May 21, 2021
  • 4 min read
Forest Man of Kasaragod – Abdul Kareem

Abdul Kareem: Kasaragod, one of the hottest regions in the state, frequently experiences extreme summer water shortages. This is despite receiving 3,300 mm of rain annually on average. Since laterite has a high degree of porosity, rainwater can escape as subsurface flow, which has a negative impact on crops and the supply of drinking water in the summer. Kasaragod farmers and inhabitants are affected by drought due to a monsoon delay or a lack of summer rainfall.

Abdul Kareem was raised in a lowly home and has had a love of plants since he was a young boy. The family used to sustain with the help of a little business of his father. When massive fires engulfed the hilltops, Kareem could see them from his modest home as a young child. Even lofty trees toppled to the ground as a result of the impact. As he matured, he came to understand that it was the traditional agricultural method of “slash and burn.”

In order to pursue his somewhat unconventional desire, Abdul Kareem returned to India in 1977, leaving behind a successful career in Dubai. Kareem was raised in the northern Keralan village of Kottappuram, which is close to Kasaragod. Kareem used to spend most of his lunchtime at school in a nearby sacred grove, especially on days when he had nothing to eat. He was mesmerised by the dense, ominous-green forests.

Kareem got the notion to plant a forest from Dubai. The sweltering heat that may very easily melt one’s bones. Only trees could have helped. This particular idea served as his model.

Kareem left his successful job and returned to Kerala with an odd fantasy. For Rs 3750, he acquired 5 acres of land from his neighbours in 1977. He set about establishing a forest on his property. He did something that his family and friends believed to be mad. Soon this became the tale of one man’s vision and tenacity, which resulted in the construction of Kerala’s sole artificial forest of this magnitude.

The terrain around Kasaragod slopes and is composed primarily of laterite, a hard rock. The property was deserted because of the rugged terrain, and now a man planned to plant a forest there.

Getting locals to assist him for labour needs was Kareem’s first obstacle. He quickly became aware of the impending unemployment and poverty in the neighbourhood and made the decision to hire locals to cultivate the field and plant saplings. He gave them monetary payments, which enabled them to overcome poverty.

Kareem thus became a likeable character in the region who also set the path for local growth while also establishing a forest. He improved the region’s roads and lacked energy. Even the villagers were persuaded to send their kids to school by him.

Kareem worked the area and planted numerous seedlings with the help of his army of men and women. To water the plants at first, it was necessary to go long distances. Kareem’s forest has a notable quality that distinguishes it as a forest in the true sense: once it began to sustain itself, Kareem never attempted to interfere with its natural development. Instead, he zealously avoided anything that might obstruct his forest’s natural growth. He doesn’t sweep up the leaves that have fallen in the forest and he has never weeded it. Absolutely no attempt is being made to intervene.

Kareem didn’t turn back after that, and his dream began to come true in a way that had never been possible. He periodically increased his land, and today he can proudly claim 28 acres of forested land. And he lives in his own isolated, dark, deep forests.

Now producing hundreds of litres of water every day, Kareem’s forest protects an entire hamlet from summertime severe drought. Kareem’s property provides water to a large number of communities and families for domestic and irrigation needs. It’s all free. Kareem was also recognised in 1998 for his exceptional contribution to forestry by the Kerala Forest Research Institute.

Before current trees also vanish, Kareem exhorts people to contribute to their preservation. The tale of Kareem’s Forest, which originated in the Kasaragod drylands, will motivate conservationists and admirers of nature everywhere.

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