Meet Tulasi Gowda: Septuagenarian Padma Shri Awardee Who Planted Countless Trees

With a profound love for trees in the eyes and determination in her steps, Tulasi Gowda is known lovingly as ajji in the Halakki tribe and in Honnali village, Ankola taluk in Karnataka. The septuagenarian has been honored with Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award of India. Padma Shri awardee Tulasi Gowda is a retired employee of the forest department and has spent a significant part of her planting and saving trees.

She has been actively involved with the Agasur Nursery of the forest department as part of their afforestation efforts in the Mastikatta range of Honnalli village in Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka. Born in the ‘40s, she didn’t have any formal education and yet has made immense contributions to protect the environment.

Meet Padma Shri Awardee Tulasi Gowda Who Planted Countless Trees

Image: Abhishek Chinnappa

She has brilliant knowledge of silviculture of the Indian forest and trees. She has won over a dozen awards for her incredible work as an environmentalist, including the Indira Priyadarshini Vrukshamitra Award in 1986 and Kannada Rajyotsava Award in 1999.

Last year, she won the Padma Shri Award for her conservation efforts. She has used her unequalled knowledge of indigenous tree species to grow forests in order to fight the rapid changes in climatic conditions.

Despite receiving awards and popularity for her work, Gowda says that she cares for the trees and forests more and will continue to nurture them as long as she lives. She is estimated to have planted hundreds of thousands of trees in Karnataka on her own, without any external motivation.

Her inspiring work has made a lasting impact on the members of her community. Nagaraja Gowda of Uttara Kannada District, who works for the welfare of the Halakki tribe, says that Tulasi is the pride of their community as she has imparted invaluable knowledge of trees and herbal plants. Aside from environmental work, Gowda has also advocated for women’s rights within her community.

She is an inspirational woman, who has devoted her entire life to planting, nurturing and protecting trees when most of us are failing to see the bitter truth of climate change that’s been staring us right in the face for years now.

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