Surviving participants of the first all- woman Chipko action at Reni village in 1974 on left jen wadas, reassembled thirty years later.
The solution of present-day problems lies in the re-establishment of a harmonious relationship between man and nature. To keep this relationship permanent we will have to digest the definition of real development: development is synonymous with culture. When we sublimate nature in a way that we achieve peace, happiness, prosperity and, ultimately, fulfillment along with satisfying our basic needs, we march towards culture." -- Sunderlal Bahuguna, leading Chipko activist
The Chipko movement itself was never an organised protest. It was largely a series of discrete protests by separate Himalayan villages like Reni, Gopeshwar and Dungari-Paitoli. In some cases it was villagers fighting the government and in some cases it was village women fighting their men who would rather cut the trees and see some money without worrying where the firewood would come from. But this amorphousness of the movement was given a unified vision and leadership by the Gandhian social worker, Chandi Prasad Bhatt, a resident of Gopeshwar, who had seen trees disappear, local village industries erode, and women's work burden go up.
Bhatt worked closely with the village women and encouraged them to assert their environmental rights. He organised them to take up aforestation work in the degraded Alakananda Valley. "How many trees are you going to leave behind for your daughter-in-law," he would repeatedly ask the elder women trudging along the mountain slopes. A question that still needs to be asked in thousands of villages.