Embrace the trees and
Save them from being felled;
The property of our hills,
Save them from being looted.
These words are from a poem by Ghanasyam Raturi, an Indian poet writing about the Chipko movement in the 1970s to protect the regional forests in Uttar Pradesh (Uttrakhand). The success of this nonviolent, grassroots resistance was felt around the globe, serving as the inspiration for future environmental movements. The Chipko Andolan also stands out as an eco-feminist movement. Women formed the nucleus of the movement, as the group most directly affected by the lack of firewood and drinking water caused by deforestation.
The original Chipko movement dates back to the 18th century, when a group of 363 people from 84 different villages, led by Amrita Devi, laid down their lives to protect a group of khejri trees that were to be cut down at the order of the maharaja, or king, of Jodhpur. After this event, the maharaja decreed that the trees were to be left standing. The original movement was called "angalwaltha", the Garhwali word for "embrace," as the protesters protected the trees by surrounding them and linking hands, physically preventing the loggers from touching the plants. The movement was later named for the Hindi word “chipko,” which means “to stick.”