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Chipko Movement saves trees; with Love and Hugs

Want to save your trees? You can, hug them!

That’s just what the Chipko Movement did. Chipko comes from a Hindi word meaning embrace, and the Chipko Movement hugged trees to stop them being cut down.

YL volunteer Helen compiled all the info, images and video clips for you:

It was 1973, and the first movement happened spontaneously in a village in the Himalayas. Since then, the Chipko Movement, groups of activists protecting their trees, has spread across Uttar Pradesh and India itself. An active protest, the Chipko Movement put themselves between their beloved trees and the axe threatening to cut them down.

Surviving participants of the first all-woman Chipko action at Reni village in 1974 on left jen wadas, reassembled thirty years later

From 1973, the movement grew rapidly, and in 1980 it succeeded in persuading Indira Gandhi to  pass a fifteen year old ban on felling in the Himalayan states. What’s more, although in 2004 one district Himachal Pradesh lifted this ban, in 2005 it was still in place in most districts.

Meet Sunderlal Bahuguna.

He is one of the most prominent leaders of the Chipko movement. An activist and philosopher, between 1981 and 1983 he travelled 5000km across the Himalayas spreading the message of the Chipkos to those he met. In 1989 he began a series of hunger strikes in protest to dam building in the Himalayas, and the Chipko Movement became the Save the Himalaya Movement.




One of the best thing about the Chipko Movement was the way it spread to women. In Chamoli district in 1974, a group of women protected 2500 trees from being auctioned off by the government by standing by them. Chipko empowered women to change their world.

We’ve all heard about tree huggers, but this is one time when this method really worked! It just goes to show that, if you feel strongly about something, if you want to protect it, you can. A Chipko proverb says:

‘ Embrace the trees and
Save them from being felled;
The property of our hills,
Save them from being looted.’

And it’s true. If you love something, you can fight to save it too, just like the Chipko movement.



If you want to find out more about the Chipko movement, you can find lots of information at:

Aren’t you inspired by this story? Won’t you call for a similar campaign? Don’t you want to see our neighborhood, our country, our world greener and cleaner? Then save the trees, please.


Helen Dring

Helen is a writer and teacher from the United Kingdom. She gets tired of all the doom and gloom reported in the world and would rather hear what people are doing about it. She speaks three languages and has a near-dangerous addiction to buying scarves. She wants to write for Youth Leader to be a part of the change that she wants to see in the world, and believes that no-one ever achieved anything by standing on the sidelines.

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