Gaura Devi, leads a group of women to form circles around trees to stop them being felled, giving rise to the Chipko Movement in India on March 26, 1974.
The Chipko movement is a movement that practiced the Gandhian methods of satyagraha and non-violent resistance, through the act of hugging trees to protect them from being felled.
“Maatu hamru, paani hamru, hamra hi chhan yi baun bhi… Pitron na lagai baun, hamunahi ta bachon bhi”
Soil ours, water ours, ours are these forests. Our forefathers raised them, it’s we who must protect them.
— Old Chipko Song
The modern Chipko movement started in the early 1970s in the Garhwal Himalayas of Uttarakhand, then in Uttar Pradesh with growing awareness towards rapid deforestation. The landmark event in this struggle took place on March 26, 1974, when a group of peasant women in Reni village, India, acted to prevent the cutting of trees and reclaim their traditional forest rights that were threatened by the contractors assigned by the state Forest Department. Their actions inspired hundreds of such actions at the grassroots level throughout the region. By the 1980s the movement had spread throughout India and led to the formulation of people-sensitive forest policies, which put a stop to the open felling of trees in regions as far reaching as Vindhyas and the Western Ghats. Today, it is seen as an inspiration and a precursor for Chipko movement of Garhwal. Its leader was Sunderlal Bahuguna.