With a last name that literally translates to ‘mountain peak’, it is no wonder that Dr. Satyanarayana Parvataneni has planted 162 hectares (400 acres) of forests which is just over 300,000 seedlings in Portland, with plans to plant another 40 hectares (100 acres) by next year.
A medical doctor by profession, Dr. Parvataneni, migrated to Jamaica in the late 70s and fell in love with the ‘land of wood and water’ and wanted to do his part to keep it that way. An environmentalist by nature, Dr. P, as he is affectionately called by the Forestry Department team, uses solar energy for both his home and office, does his back yard gardening and recycles and reuses as much as possible to produce little to no waste. Dr. Parvataneni got involved in tree planting around 1998 when he resigned from the public sector as a senior medical officer at the Port Antonio Hospital where he last served.
“After I resigned, I had a lot of free time on my hands so I got involved in coffee farming, a well promoted export crop at that time. Subsequently, the Forestry Department was promoting a programme for private nurseries to propagate seedlings and give to farmers so I got involved in that and was later introduced to the Private Forestry Programme and the planting intensified and we’re still at it", Dr. Parvataneni shared.
The Private Forestry Programme (PFP) encourages private land owners and other entities to plant trees on parcels of land not under productive use for commercial wood production and soil conservation.
Dr. Parvataneni has high praises for the Forestry Department and the PFP which he says from day one has been excellent. He says what he has appreciated the most from the Agency is the insight received into how to propagate seedlings from the trees on his property.
“This has helped significantly in the last three to four years where we have produced our own seedlings. We’ve been producing between 30 and 40,000 seedlings each year and in the last 18 months, we have planted approximately 130,000 seedlings which were produced by us,” he said.
Having invested so much time and money over the years in buying lands, propagating seedlings and paying workers to plant and maintain the properties, Dr. Parvataneni says he has no plans to cut the trees but he wants to hand over the areas to the Forestry Department for management.
“Life doesn’t start or end with us, life is infinity and we just occupy a compartment until our destination comes. Nothing is limitless and so we need to save and replenish what we use. So, my philosophy is not to cut trees that are healthy and growing, my policy is to let them grow and self-multiply. So, ultimately I want to hand over the 500 acres to the Agency,” Dr. Parvataneni said.
When asked how he has supported his planting activities over the years and what has kept him going, he sums it up to determination and reinforcement but also credits the support of family and other individuals.
“My family has been unwavering in their support; they are a tower of strength. There are also a lot of people in government like the Forestry Department and the Rural Agricultural Development Authority who have been helpful. Also in the private sector, I have people who come and help me without any problems plus I have a great team of willing and hardworking men who are really the backbone of the whole operation, from collecting the seeds, sowing them to planting and maintaining them. There has been a lot of ups and downs over the years but the challenges also serve as motivation,” Dr. Parvataneni shared.
Dr. P's push to overcome the challenges has seen success with the trees that he has planted doing well reaching heights of up to 60 meters (197 feet) tall.
The successes he has witnessed has prompted him to invite others to participate in the programme and he is encouraging anyone who has the resources to play their part in giving back to the environment and in leaving a legacy for future generations.