A Brazilian, Sebastião and Lélia Salgado, the couple spent their 20 years planting trees and now, they have their own forest and thousands of wild animals live there.
In 1994, Brazilian photojournalist Sebastião Salgado returned home from East Africa after documenting the horrors of the Rwanda genocide.
He needed peace and wants to spend some time in the forest of his native land in the Minas Gerais area of Brazil after the distressing experience.
However, the forest of his native land was only 0.5% covered in trees and the rivers had dried up.
Sebastião and his wife, Lélia decided to restore the destroyed forest.
“The land was as sick as I was – everything was destroyed. 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.”
The couple hired 24 people to plant trees with them.
Sebastião and Lélia also founded Instituto Terra, an environmental organization that has planted 4 million saplings of 293 species of trees and restored 1,502 acres of tropical forest.
“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.”
Now, the land is lush green forest and all the wild animals have also returned.The couple’s determination has made it possible which at first looked impossible.
“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, ” Salgado said.
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