Couple Replant Entire Forest Which Is Now Home To Over 500 Endangered Species

A world-renowned photographer and his wife have worked tirelessly to replant more than two million saplings in a bid to bring an entire forest back from the brink of being completely dried out.

Back in 1994, economics graduate Sebastião Salgado went to Mozambique and Angola as an advisor to the World Bank. But when he observed the aftermath of the Rwandan genocides in 1994 he opted to use his passion for photography to show the world what he had seen.

Returning to his hometown of Minas Gerais, Brazil, Sebastião expected to be met with the tropical paradise he had left behind. But he soon found that had been completely destroyed with around 0.5 per cent of the land left covered in trees.

His wife, Lélia, suggested the pair replant the entire forest which, at 1,502 acres, probably sounded ludicrous.

Seemingly not one to turn down a challenge, Sebastião agreed and the pair hired over 24 employees who were later joined by a number of volunteers as the years passed.

Sebastião with his wife, Lélia. Credit: Instituto Terra
Sebastião with his wife, Lélia. Credit: Instituto Terra

Slowly but surely the forest began to flourish once more which is all thanks to Sebastião and Lélia's decision to replant the area.

Since 1998, more than two million saplings of 293 species of trees have been planted, rejuvenating the 1,500-acre tropical forest.

The Guardian reported on Mr Salgado's meeting with religious leaders back in 2015, where he explained: "The land was as sick as I was - everything was destroyed. Only about 0.5 per cent of the land was covered in trees.

The area in recent times. Credit: Instituto Terra
The area in recent times. Credit: Instituto Terra

"Then my wife had a fabulous idea to replant this forest. And when we began to do that, then all the insects and birds and fish returned and, thanks to this increase of the trees I, too, was reborn - this was the most important moment."

The family set up the Instituto Terra, a community non-profit non-governmental organisation that operates in the whole territory of the Valley of the River Doce between the states of Minas Gerais and Espírito Santo.

In doing so, Mr Salgado explained that he has found one answer to climate change, saying: "Perhaps we have a solution. There is a single being which can transform CO2 to oxygen, which is the tree. We need to replant the forest.

A picture from the website. Credit: Instituto Terra
A picture from the website. Credit: Instituto Terra

"You need forest with native trees, and you need to gather the seeds in the same region you plant them or the serpents and the termites won't come. And if you plant forests that don't belong, the animals don't come there and the forest is silent.

"We need to listen to the words of the people on the land. Nature is the earth and it is other beings and if we don't have some kind of spiritual return to our planet, I fear that we will be compromised."

Featured Image Credit: Instituto Terra

Rebecca Shepherd

Rebecca Shepherd is a Journalist at LADbible. She graduated from the University of Central Lancashire with a First Class BA in Journalism. Becky previously worked as Chief Reporter at Cavendish Press, supplying news and feature stories to national newspapers and women's magazines.

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