“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness!” – said John Muir, naturalist and environmental philosopher, who was an advocate of preservation of wilderness in America way back in the 19th century. The sexagenarian Kusum Dahivalkar lives up to Muir’s philosophy each and every day. In fact, her life has been all about the forest, the flora and fauna. A retired plantation officer in the Social Forestry Department in Nashik, Maharashtra, she has made it her mission to inspire people to save and plant trees, and live as close to nature as possible.
For several years now, Dahivalkar has been visiting inaccessible forest areas, meeting up with teachers from agricultural colleges and plant scientists, and interacting with tribals who live as one with nature. Kusum-tai is concerned with the indiscriminate felling of trees in the name of development and replacing them with exotic species like the gulmohur, subabul or eucalyptus, which are “hardly beneficial to the ecosystem although they grow fast”.