After realizing that an entire rainforest previously housing 500+ endangered species had been cut down, resulting in all the wildlife vanishing from the area, a couple decided to replant it.

Well known Brazilian photographer, Sebastião Salgado had returned to Minas Gerais in 1994, expecting to be welcomed back to the paradise he remembered from his childhood, but instead he was met with a horrifying sight – the land he once knew was now a barren wasteland with roughly 0.5% of the land remaining covered in trees.

The Guardian reported that Salgado had met with a group of religious leaders to discuss climate change after returning from an already traumatic event, experiencing the genocide in Rwanda first hand and that he’d come home to discover the ‘remains’ of the forest.

He told them:

The land was as sick as I was – everything was destroyed. Only about 0.5 per cent of the land was covered in trees.

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.

Salgado and his family since set up the Instituto Terra and have successfully planted more than two million trees, offering a home to the 500+ endangered species which once roamed freely in the area, bringing life to the forest.

With the first seed being planted in December of 1999, the coupled employed 24 workers at the start and have over the years been joined by numerous volunteers, all aiming to achieve even more through the project. Working tirelessly day and night, they uprooted the invasive weeds and planted the future seedlings who would eventually go on to recreate a magnificent forest.

With time, tropical trees native to the region flourished, with 100 000 more saplings being donated, giving rise to the most beautiful forest, resulting in increased rainfall in the area, cooler weather and a drastic desirable change in climate overall.

The photographer says he has found the answer to climate change, including the bonus of creative inspiration.

Salgado explained:

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.

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.

With 293 species of trees now inhabiting the 1,500 acre forest, it has been rejuvenated beyond expectations and I’d say that’s hats off to Salgado and his wife, all the staff and volunteers for their efforts in this incredible project!


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