When contractors came to her Himalayan forest to cut down thousands of trees, Gaura Devi rallied the women of her village and marched into the woods. Armed with only their bare hands and fierce determination to save the forest upon which their livelihoods depended, Gaura Devi and the women put themselves between the trees and the contractors' chainsaws.
The state government had hatched a plan to draw the men of the village away to another town, believing the women would not put up a fight.
They were mistaken. Gaura Devi stared down the contractors and compelled them to leave the forest. Her actions that day, in March 1974, became legendary -- it led to a 20-year ban on the felling of trees above 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) in the region. And the events at Raini village in northern India were a pivotal moment in what became one of the country's most influential environmental movements.