Phurailatpam Keny Devi | IMPHAL
Humans are the destroyer of this mother earth. It is high time we realise the blunder of demolishing our own habitat. Conserving and nurturing forest is the only possible way to redemption.
These are the words of concerns from Moirangthem Loiyangamba, the guardian of Punsilok forest in a chat with the Imphal Free Press. The award winning forest conservationist took out time from his hectic schedule of making ‘fireline’. He along with his young volunteers, at the time of filing this report, are camped inside the forest.
Loiya, replenished 300 acres of barren land into a lush green forest called Punsilok in Maru Langol hill range in Imphal in a span of 17 years along with the volunteers of Wildlife and Habitat Protection Society (WAHPS).
“My desire to conserve this forest is out of love for nature. I adopted this forest as my own child. This is the reason it is being transformed into a forest,” he recalled. Having a sense of ownership of mother earth is the mantra for successful conservation of environment, he added.
Mentioning an instance that indicates the impact of climate change in the state, he said it is his first time in 17 years to see the stream that flows in Punsilok drying up this year. The impact of climate change that gives devastating effect is heightening, he added.
The root cause of environmental degradation is unlimited human greed, he pointed out, adding “we should learn to live in harmony with nature, not just extracting the resources, which are of limited stock. Using of natural resources is inevitable, but there has to be a limit,” he added.
“Nature is so generous that if you give little care, it will return more. So let’s try to acquire the character of nature so that both nature and human live peacefully,” he asserted.
‘Fireline’ or ‘Meiram’ in Meiteilon is an annual event of WAHPS. Onset of dry season brings intermittent wild fire in the forest. Punsilok’s trees have met with fire tragedies in the past.
However, the tragedies taught Loiya lessons to ward off wild fire. A practical wisdom that forest gave to Loiya. Making a ‘fireline’ is about clearing the wild grass growth along the forest perimeter. They employ customised blades, made in Wangkhei, to make ‘fireline’. “I have tried with different tools. But I decided to use the customised one as it is very effective and handy,” said Loiya.
Yet on a closer look, ‘Fireline’ is not just about clearing the grasses. For the group, the day starts at four in the morning, followed by one-hour meditation after the morning rituals. They work about seven hours daily, punctuated by group discussions, music, and another one-hour meditation before they call it a day at half past nine.
The forest guardian is delighted of the gradual rise of environmental awareness among the citizens. He also expressed his appreciation of the government’s initiative of going green by planting trees.
But Loiya is also critical in a sense that tree plantation drive sometimes assumes a ritual without much substance. “It is doubtful that such drive will serve its purpose. A minimum of four to five years’ maintenance is required for ensuring successful growth of the tree saplings,” he maintained.
Loiya also informed that he will reach out to school children to impart environment education as his next initiative. “Children are tomorrow’s guardians. We need to educate them and make them involve”, he said.