A Kerala-based retired bank employee, turned a 1-acre rubber plantation into a mini forest. Gopalakrishnan KR, used his retirement benefits for the remarkable project.
Gopalakrishnan K R, says we frequently forget, that natural products are not simply for humans to enjoy. The 67-year-old. has been cultivating a tiny fruit forest on a one-acre plot of land in Mannamangalam for the past seven years, owing to his deep passion for nature.
Thousands of trees provide shelter and food for birds and animals in this lush sanctuary.
Gopalakrishnan says, “I don’t mess with the forest or take any of the fruits because it is set up for the birds and animals.”
Gopalakrishnan opted to buy a piece of land that was once a rubber plantation after retiring from SBI in 2014. It was the ideal plot of land, with a forest on one side and a lake on the other.
Gopalakrishnan began clearing the area after purchasing it by removing all of the rubber trees. Then, over time, he began to fill the space with various fruit trees, medicinal plants, and other flora.
Gopalakrishnan says, “There were a few non-rubber trees and plants that I left alone,” adding that he spent an additional Rs 10-15 lakh to turn the desolate acreage into the forest it is now.
Over the last five years, the former computer operator has single-handedly raised this greenzone, dubbed ‘Pranah’ (life).
He says, “I began planting saplings throughout the countryside in the hopes that they would eventually develop, bloom, and bear fruit for the birds and animals.”
According to Gopalakrishnan, Pranah boasts over 500 different species of trees, with over 200 of them being fruit trees. He goes on to say that constructing this miniature forest entailed more than just planting trees.
Fruit trees such as jackfruit and mangoes of many sorts, as well as papaya, guava, sapota, water apple, gooseberry, fig, and many others, may be found in Pranah. “Many species, such as wild boars, squirrels, monkeys, and many birds, are regular visitors here,” he explains.
He claims that the forest has over 1,000 medicinal plants, including several species of tulsi, koduveli (Indian leadwort), sanjeevani, and analivegam (poison devil tree), among others. ” Even when it was a rubber plantation, the plot had a number of medicinal plants.”
There are a number of therapeutic plants that have yet to be recognised, including “He says he’s attempting to figure out who they are with the help of his scientist buddies and Google. Only a narrow trail leads through the woodland, which is around 150 metres from the road.
“I want the forest to stay unaffected by the outside world,” adds Gopalakrishnan, who visits Pranah every other day to check on his progress.
In the forest, there is a modest one-room home for him to relax in, as well as a well for watering. Gopalakrishnan and ‘Pranah’ have won numerous awards, including the Kerala Forest Department’s Vanamithra Award for biodiversity protection in 2021.”
Gopalakrishnan says, “I used the money, Rs 50,000, to help fund a drinking water project in a local SC-ST neighbourhood.”
He claims that in addition to maintaining a fruit forest, he also helps others set up home gardens for free.
Gopalakrishnan n K R says, “I obtain the seedlings for free and plant them on their property. I’ve helped about 100 households near Ponnukkara thus far.”