Deforestation is a major threat to our planet. It is responsible for about 15 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to global warming, adversely affecting the weather and, causing soil erosion.
When all of these changes affect every living being on Earth, it is difficult and powerful to imagine how we can alleviate such critical problems. But, as one intelligent couple has proven, it is not too late to recover the environmental damage we have done.
In 1994, Brazilian photojournalist Sebastiao Salgado returned home after reporting in Rwanda. It was not a good experience for him, so he looked forward to having the experience of the tropical jungle where he grew up in the province of Minas Gerais. He received nothing but barren land. It has destroyed a few years ago. Many of its animals are endangered. Sebastiao said, “Like me, the land was sick – everything was destroyed. Trees covered only 0.5% of the land.”
Making the land back to tropical glory seemed impossible. Although Sebastiao’s wife, Lelia, believed it was worth the effort than omitting it. So they determined to replant the whole forest and finally, they did.
The couple bought a cattle farm abandoned by Sebastiao’s parents and started to work, recruiting volunteers and funding for their initiatives. In 1998, they started Instituto Terra, a non-profit organization dedicated to forest restoration and conservation. Next, they planted their first sapling in 1999.
In the 20 years since then, the organization has planted more than two million trees of 293 species and revitalized 1502 acres of tropical forests. Previously dried-up springs are now flowing. More than 172 species of birds, 33 species of mammals and, 15 species of amphibians and reptiles are found in the area now. So the forest is once again growing successfully and has been coming to light as a private natural heritage.
For Sebastiao, the effort has done much more. It brought a new pleasure to his heart. He says that he felt as he was born again because of the growth of these trees. Also, he says that it was the most important moment for them.
Sebastiao and Lilia expect that others will realize that everything can make difference through the success of their mission. As Sebastiao says, we must listen to the words of the people on earth. Nature is the earth and it is other living things and we must be afraid that if we do not have some kind of spirituality on our planet, we will be endangered.
The Salgados are living proof that shows we can all make our world a better place to live if we all spend a little time and effort – one tree at a time. So you can learn more about Instituto Terra through the video below. Also, don’t forget to share. Be a contributor to expanding their mission of contributing to a green planet. Thank you!