Tulsi Gowind Gowda has an extraordinary love for trees. Many people call her "the goddess of trees". Now over 80 years old, Gowda has devoted her entire life to restoring forest ecosystems in southern India that were destroyed during the process of modernization and urbanization. Starting with land behind her family's backyard, Gowda has turned vast areas of land in Karnataka into dense forests. She was an advisor to Adugodi Nanjappa Yellappa Reddy, a top Indian official who was charged with reforesting large areas of land in Karnataka. "There was some magic in her hands," said the 86-year-old Reddy, "Her knowledge to identify indigenous species and collect them carefully and nurture trees can be found in no book." Even though Gowda has long been retired, she continues to share her extensive knowledge and experiences with visitors and the government nursery where she worked for 65 years. Last year, the Indian government awarded Gowda one of the country's highest civilian honors for her lifelong work in forest conservation. Though fully cognizant that the environment has been negatively impacted by human activities, the optimistic Gowda says, "When I see these filled forests here, I feel it is possible for humans to prosper without cutting trees."

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