Brazilian couple spends 20 years replanting a rainforest and something amazing happens

As deforestation ravages the world and contributes to worsening climate change, one Brazilian couple has provided an example of how we can unite and breathe life back into our rainforests.

Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado grew up in the state of state of Minas Gerais on a 1,700 acre property teaming with wildlife and lush forests, a tropical paradise that would soon give way to a cattle ranch that destroyed everything he remembered about his family lands.

“The land was as sick as I was – everything was destroyed,” Salgado remembered.

But his wife Lélia envisioned a restored rainforest at a time when more of it is disappearing with each day.

In order turn their endeavor into a reality, the couple started the Instituto Terra, which is “dedicated to the sustainable development of the Valley of the River Doce.”

Not long after, the team began planting trees in 1998 and just 20 years and 2.7 million trees later, they had restored the entire rainforest to its former glory. And then something else amazing happened.

“Only about 0.5% of the land was covered in trees,” Salgado recounted. “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.”

According to My Modern Met:

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 expected, 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.

They literally transformed the entire ecosystem and climate in the area just by planting the rainforest, and they did it all while improving the lives of farmers around them in the process by returning water and food resources to the environment.

And their idea is a solution to reversing climate change if enough nations and people have the willingness and determination to do what they did.

“Perhaps we have a solution,” Salgado said. “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.”

At the moment, there is so much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that merely planting trees is not enough to deal with it, but it’s a good start. Human exploitation of forestland has taken a toll on our planet and it’s only getting worse every moment we wait to do something about it.

Salgado and his wife did something about it 20 years ago, and while their contribution is great, it’s not enough.

“We need to listen to the words of the people on the land,” he said. “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.”

Their story is a lesson to others that we can achieve seemingly impossible tasks like growing an entire rainforest if we work together toward a common goal. This is one goal that can be achieved all around the world. And it’s a goal that must be met if we want to survive in it.

 

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Featured Image: Wikimedia

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