Couple Spends 20 Years Planting Forest and 100s of Endangered Animals Have Returned

Sebastião Ribeiro Salgado, a Brazilian photojournalist, left East Africa 30 years ago after working on a project for the Rwanda genocide. This job left him traumatized and exhausted and he couldn’t wait to go back.

After coming back, Salgado decides to take care of his family’s cattle ranch located in Minas Gerais. This place is an amazing view with a lot of vegetation. The rainforest is also nearby.

However, when Salgado came back, he saw that only 0.5% of the land he had was covered in trees. The rest of the area was completely empty. There was no wildlife near the land and Salgado felt really bad about it. In an interview, he stated that the land was completely sick, just as he was feeling from the project he was on in Africa.

Lélia, his wife, had a great idea. She told him that they should replant the forest. Even though this seemed like an impossible mission, the couple founded the Instituto Terra in 1998. This is an organization for the environment devoted to the development of the Valley of the River Doce.

Starting was hardest for the couple. The two of them along with members of the Instituto Terra team started rebuilding the 1,754-acre forest.

At the moment, the forest is known as a Private Natural Heritage Reserve and hundreds of species of fauna and flora came back to the place. There are 172 species of birds, 293 species of trees, 33 mammals and 15 reptiles and amphibians and most of the animals that are located here are on the list of endangered species.

Salgado improved the ecosystem and the climate in the area. The drought was gone forever and the springs eventually came back. Everyone felt the difference in local temperature that was made due to the project.

The couple was happy for the return of the birds, fish, and insects to their home.


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