A Brazilian Couple Spent 20 Years Planting an Entire Forest, and Thousands of Wild Animals Are Back Home
A Brazilian couple has planted an entire forest for 20 years and thousands of wild animals are back
Every year, the land loses about 18 million acres of forest, the size of Panama. These major environmental changes affect not only humans, but also countless animal species that must leave their natural habitat and settle elsewhere. There is no doubt that our common task today is to stop the destruction of our planet by all means. And a Brazilian couple, Sebastião and Lélia Salgado, proved that everyone could exert influence and upset the deforestation process.
We have just come to understand how this dedicated couple managed to achieve such good results and turn a desolate landscape into an animal paradise.
It all started with a simple dream of a peaceful life.
In 1994, Brazilian photojournalist Sebastião Salgado returned from East Africa to document the horrors of the Rwandan genocide. After this traumatic experience, he sought peace in the lush forest of his home in Minas Gerais, Brazil.
What he saw there, however, was even more devastating: in a few years a rich forest turned into a dry, heavily damaged and dusty river landscape with no trace of wildlife. The land was only covered by 0.5% trees. Salgado was shaken.
At that time, his wife Lélia made a proposal almost impossible. She believed that her forest could regain its former glory if it did everything in its power. Sebastião supported his idea and the couple decided to replant the entire area with a species that once thrived there. Since then, a miraculous transformation has taken place.
The dream of planting a forest has been shared with others
Salgado sowed its first seed in 1998, but apparently 2 people were not enough to do such an extraordinary job. To restore their piece of abandoned forest, the couple hired 24 people who worked with the owners day and night, uprooted invasive weeds, planted new plants and watered the plants.
At the same time, Sebastião started to build a network of volunteers and enthusiastic partners to fund and support their huge project. To draw attention to their mission, the couple founded an environmental organization, Instituto Terra.
The Instituto Terra’s main objective is to restore the ecosystem of the region by producing seedlings of the Atlantic forest. There is also an ambitious awareness campaign for schoolchildren, teachers, farmers and local officials. To raise awareness of the problem, the institute even advises farmers, miners and others working in the forest region.
The hard work of the organization paid off – tropical trees from the region quickly prospered, although the region has been heavily deforested for decades. Today, it is a lush forest that is reborn and developing again.
Since 1998, the couple has planted more than 4 million seedlings of 293 tree species and restored 1,502 hectares of tropical forest. Once a barren land, the area has been restored to its original state of tropical paradise.
Thanks to the new forest, an entire ecosystem has been rebuilt from scratch. This reforestation has resulted in the revival of a tropical microclimate that returns more and more rain and coves filled with water.
Surprisingly, the healthy ecosystem of the new forest has not only saved the local landscape, but has also encouraged wildlife to return to the area.
The return of wildlife is the most important positive aspect of a new forest. With enough food and shelter for them, more than 172 bird species, 33 mammal species and 15 species of amphibians and reptiles have returned home, many of which are in danger of extinction.
Salgado’s determination has shown that even the smallest steps can be taken to achieve the greatest achievements and that each of us can contribute to the protection of our planet in its own way.
What do you think of the Salgado project? Have you ever personally planted a tree? Feel free to share your experiences in the comments!