Saalumarada Thimmakkka, often referred to as the ‘Mother of Trees,’ is an Indian environmentalist and activist known for planting over 8,000 trees across India in her lifetime. Everyday, she inspires thousands of people across the globe to cherish the natural environment, and she’s doing it all at 107 years old.
In the 1930s, Thimmakka and her late husband selflessly dedicated their lives to the environment. The couple, who never had children, made it their mission to nurture the Earth around them. In the 1950s, Thimmakka was determined to plant as many trees as possible between her village of Hulikal and the neighboring village of Kudur. In the span of three years, she and her husband were able to plant and sustain 284 trees where there were none before.
After her husband passed in 1991, Thimmakka continued to devote her life to protecting and valuing the environment. She has gone on to plant over 8,000 trees across India, most of them in her home state of Karnataka. Aside from planting trees, Thimmakka is heavily involved in environmental activism in her country. She is a member of the State and National Environmental Protection program of India and an active campaigner for afforestation –– the process of planting trees.
Thimmakka and her adopted son, Umesh BN, founded the Saalumarada Thimmakka International Foundation in 2014. The organization operates as a charity dedicated to funding environmental conservation and restoration projects, research studies, and the facilitation of education on the natural environment. Alongside this, other objectives of the foundation include providing shelter and resources to the poor, giving financial aid to Indian students, and supporting the maintenance of medical hospitals nationwide.
Her work has inspired others around the world to become environmentally conscious. She is the namesake for Thimmakka’s Resources for Environmental Education, a nonprofit based in Oakland, California that provides ecological advice to local restaurants. The Indian government considers her achievements so important, that her story has been added to Hindi textbooks to teach and inspire Indian students.
Thimmakka’s achievements have earned her worldwide recognition. Earlier this year, she received the Padma Shri award, an honor given by the Government of India for exceptional civilian work. She also won the National Citizen’s Award in 1995 for the selfless work she does for the environment.