Couple Spends 20 Years Planting An Entire Forest And Animals Have Returned

Brazilian photojournalist Sebastião Ribeiro Salgado returned from East Africa, where he was on location documenting the horrors of the Rwanda genocide.

Following this traumatizing project, Salgado was to take over his family’s sprawling cattle ranch in Minas Gerais—a region he remembered as lush and lively rainforest.

Unfortunately, the area had undergone a drastic transformation; only about 0.5% was covered in trees, and all of the wildlife had disappeared. “The land,” he tells The Guardian, “was as sick as I was.”

His wife Lélia had an idea: that they should replant the forest.

In order to support this cause, the couple set up the Instituto Terra, an “environmental organization dedicated to the sustainable development of the Valley of the River Doce,” in 1998.

Over the next several years, the Salgados and the Instituto Terra team slowly but surely rebuilt the 1,754-acre forest, transforming it from a barren plot of land to a tropical paradise.

Now a Private Natural Heritage Reserve, hundreds of species of flora and fauna call the former cattle ranch home.

In addition to 293 species of trees, the land now teems with 172 species of birds, 33 species of mammals, and 15 species of amphibians and reptiles—many of which are endangered.

As you would expect, this rejuvenation has also had a huge impact on the ecosystem and climate.

On top of reintroducing plants and animals to the area, the project has rejuvenated several once dried-up springs in the drought-prone area and has even positively affected local temperatures.

Ultimately this major feat has saved more than the local landscape. “All the insects and birds and fish returned,” Salgado shares, “and, thanks to this increase of the trees, I, too, was reborn—this was the most important moment.”

Over the course of 20 years, Brazilian photojournalist Sebastião Ribeiro Salgado and his wife Lélia have transformed a barren plot of land into a thriving forest.

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– How an entire forest with 2,7 million trees has been restored in 20 years —- When the Brazilian photojournalist Sebastião Salgado returned home after his traumatic assignment of reporting on genocide in Rwanda, the Minas Gerais, his home, which was once a paradise of tropical forests, had turned into a barren land with no trees and no wildlife. He and his wife Lélia founded Instituto Terra as a beacon to awaken environmental awareness of the need to restore and conserve forest land. —- Native species of trees were chosen with the aim of creating a forest of high biomass and diversity. Have returned 293 species of plants, 33 of mammals, 15 of reptiles and 15 of amphibians. —- By December 2012, the Instituto Terra had developed about 700 educational projects and brought in about 65,000 people who work in more than 170 municipalities present in the Valley of the River Doce. It covered the states of Minas Gerais and Espírito Santo, as well as reaching out to states of Rio de Janeiro and Bahia. —- #sebastiaosalgado #institutoterra #aimorésminasgerais #savetherainforest

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