All the animals had either been killed or fled the area in 1998. And that's when Salgado and his wife decided to restore the forests, all by themselves!
Climate change is real and it is the need of the hour to ensure that our planet remains green. With urbanization taking over, forest areas are being cleared to make way for buildings, thus leading to deforestation. Animals are slowly losing their habitat and the balance in the ecosystem has clearly gone for a toss in modern times.
And that's why renowned Brazilian photojournalist Sebastião Salgado decided to make a change. After covering the Rwandan genocide in the 1990s, he came back to his home country only to see his deforested farmland in the state of Minas Gerais, 70 miles inland from Brazil’s Atlantic coast, reports The Guardian.
Salgado noticed that the Atlantic forest had shrunk almost 10% of its original size. With a motive to bring back the 1,502 acres of rainforest, he decided to start the Instituto Terra in 1998. The farmland that his parents had given him was all he needed to make a significant change for the environment.
“The land was as sick as I was – everything was destroyed,” Salgado told Guardian in 2015. “Only about 0.5% 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.”
After returning to the forest area that he grew up in, he was completely heartbroken over the destruction that was caused. All the animals had either been killed or fled the area. And that's when he and his wife decided to restore the forests, all by themselves!
“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,” he concluded.
He planted seeds of native trees to attract wildlife and sowed over 2 million seedlings of 290 species. His supportive wife had also hired a few dozen workers to help maintain the forests. Their dedication and love for nature had also resulted in numerous volunteers joining them over the years. Working day and night, they uprooted invasive weeds and planted new seedlings in the forest.
And as expected, almost 20 years later, Salgado's efforts to replant the entire forest has resulted in more rainfall in the area. It has also led to much cooler weather, bringing a drastic and desirable change in the climate.
The passionate couple has proved to the world that a small contribution can lead to a massive change, as their one idea of replanting the forest has now turned into two million trees over the course of 20 years.