Molai forest is named after Jadav Payeng, Indian environmental activist and forestry worker. After an initial 200 hectare planting by the social forestry division of Golaghat district was abandoned in 1983, the forest was single-handedly attended by Payeng for 30 years and now encompasses an area of about 1,360 acres / 550 hectares. Payeng planted and tended trees on a sandbar of Majuli island in the Brahmaputra River, eventually becoming a forest reserve.
Molai forest now houses Bengal tigers, Indian rhinoceros, over 100 deer and rabbits besides monkeys and several varieties of birds, including a large number of vultures. There are several thousand trees, including valcol, arjun (Terminalia arjuna), Pride of India (Lagerstroemia speciosa), royal poinciana (Delonix regia), silk trees (Albizia procera), moj (Archidendron bigeminum) and cotton trees (Bombax ceiba). Bamboo covers an area of over 300 hectares.
Molai forest and Payeng have been the subject of a number of documentaries. A locally made film documentary, produced by Jitu Kalita in 2012 The Molai Forest, was screened at the Jawaharlal Nehru University. Jitu Kalita, who lives near Payeng's house, has also featured and given recognition on his reporting of the life of Payeng through his documentary. Molai forest was also featured in a 2013 documentary Foresting life, directed by the Indian documentary filmmaker Aarti Shrivastava, and in William Douglas McMaster's 2013 film documentary Forest Man. People have pledged 8,327 USD on the Kickstarter campaign for the post-production of this documentary in early 2013, which was shown at 2014 Cannes Film Festival.
- Joshi, Apoorva (13 November 2014). "One man plants forest larger than Central Park". Mongabay News. Retrieved 20 August 2017.
- "Indian Man, Jadav "Molai" Payeng, Single-Handedly Plants A 1,360 Acre Forest In Assam". The Huffington Post. 4 March 2012. Retrieved 1 April 2014.
- "Man creates forest single-handedly on Brahmaputra sand bar". The Asian Age. 25 March 2012. Retrieved 1 April 2014.
- The Molai forest 2012 at IMDb
- "Foresting life". Humanity Watchdog. Archived from the original on 23 August 2013. Retrieved 1 April 2014.
- Foresting life 2013 at IMDb
- Forest Man 2013 at IMDb
- "Forest Man post production". Kickstarter. 14 February 2013. Retrieved 29 April 2014.
- "Payeng film gets Cannes award". The Telegraph, Calcutta, India. 26 May 2014. Retrieved 17 July 2014.
- "The American Pavilion 2014 Finalists Emerging Filmmaker Showcase:". The American Pavilion. Retrieved 17 July 2014.