Meet Padma Shri Tulasi Gowda, the ‘Encyclopedia of Forest’

Environmentalist Tulasi Gowda was conferred the Padma Shri by the President this year. Here’s all you need to know about her.

In a time when we are struggling with climate change and environmental degradation, there is a 72-year-old unsung hero who has dedicated her entire life to the protection of the environment. Tulsi Gowda’s efforts and hard work were brought to light as she was conferred with Padma Shri, the fourth-highest civilian award by President Ram Nath Kovind this November.

Gowda belongs to the Halakki indigenous tribe from Karnataka. Dressed in her traditional tribal attire, barefooted, she walked up the stage to receive the award for her selfless service to the environment.

Tulsi Gowda never had any formal education, but her knowledge about the diverse plant species and herbs earned her the title of ‘Encyclopedia of Forest.’ Her love for plants and forests began at an early age. She started out working in a nursery with her mother and worked there for 35 years until the Karnataka forest department offered her a permanent position. She had also worked for the forest department as a temporary volunteer at the age of 12. In the nursery, she was responsible for taking care of seeds to be grown and harvested by the department for the Agasur seedbed. She used her traditional knowledge to aid in afforestation efforts by the department.

She has planted a total of more than 30000 saplings to date in the Uttara Kannada district. Gowda’s life revolves around trees and saplings, and she works to preserve nature, even though she is retired now.

For her contribution to the environment all these years, Gowda’s name was nominated for the Padma Shri awards. The award ceremony took place in the Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi. It included 7 Padma Vibhushan, 10 Padma Bhushan, and 102 Padma Shri awards.

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Image credits: Google

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