Approximately 30 years ago, Sebastiao Ribeiro Salgado, a Brazilian photo journalist, came back from East Africa where he was documenting the horrors of the Rwanda genocide.
After this quite traumatizing project, he was to take over his family’s cattle ranch in Minas Gerais, a region which was lush and with a lively rainforest. However, it had been dramatically transformed- only around 0.5 percent had trees and the entire wildlife was gone.
According to Salgado, the land was as sick as he was. But, today, he has a lot to be proud of.
Reviving the Forest Together
His wife, Lelia, came up with an idea to replant the forest. In order to support this cause, they set up the Institute Terra which is an environmental organization dedicated to sustainable development of the Valley of the River Doce and founded back in 1998.
In the following years, the couple and the institute gradually but surely rebuilt the 1754-acre forest and transformed it from a barren land to a tropical paradise. You can check out the Institute’s Instagram to witness the amazing nature there!
The Success of the Reforestation
Today, the former cattle ranch has hundreds of species of flora and fauna known as Private Natural Heritage Reserve. There are 293 species of trees, 172 bird species, 33 mammal species, and 15 species of amphibians and reptiles, many of which are endangered.
The rejuvenation of the land had a major influence on the climate and ecosystem. This has also saved more than the local landscape and all of the birds, fish, and insects came back.
Salgado explains that because of the tree increase, he also was reborn, not just the forest. If we could only rejuvenate all forests like this- the world would definitely be a better place!
Before heading out, do not forget to check out the video below and learn more about this couple’s efforts to restore this land and how a simple dream about a peaceful life transformed into a vast reforestation: