When the rain forest around their home was destroyed, a Brazilian photographer and his wife took matters into their own hands and slowly reforested the area, planting over two million trees throughout the course of many years. When Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado went off to travel the world and pursue a career in journalism several years ago, his home was deep in a tropical forest, and a habitat for many exotic plants and animals.
Sadly, when he returned, he found that his home had been destroyed. The rainforest that he lived in had been entirely cut down, and the lush tropical forest that he once knew and loved had become a barren wasteland. Seeing his homeland in this state sent him spiraling into a deep depression.
Then one day, his wife Lélia Deluiz Wanick Salgado, got an amazing idea. She suggested that they try to replant the forest all on their own, and she truly believed that it could be done. The couple quickly got to work on replanting the forest that they once knew and loved.
The job wasn’t easy, but eventually, they were able to reforest the area around their home. Miraculously not long after the plants begin to bloom again, the animals started to come back also, giving new life to the region.
“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,” Salgado told The Guardian back in 2015.
“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,” he added.
20 years later, the area is nearly unrecognizable because there are so many trees and so much wildlife.
Once the project really started to pick up steam and show promise, the couple founded Instituto Terra, an organization through which they hired other members who care about the environment just as much as they do.
“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 explained.
The feats that have been achieved by this couple show that individuals really can make a difference if they put in the effort. The average person today feels very disempowered and they don’t believe that they can do anything to make a difference in this world.
However, the people who actually try to make a difference, oftentimes end up with some incredible results. The couple responsible for this incredible restoration worked very hard to make it happen, but all of that hard work is only necessary because very few others are doing their part. With so many people not paying attention to the state of the environment, it requires a great deal of effort from dedicated people to actually make a change. It doesn’t have to be like this though, because the more people that chip in, the less work we all have to do.
If every single person in the world planted just one tree, we would have billions of new trees. Sadly it doesn’t seem like the global population is up to the task yet, so the job rests on a few dedicated people, who will try to show the rest of the world that change is possible.