Since 1990, the human race has destroyed over 129 hectares of forest. This is a total area of land roughly the same size as South Africa. Ever year an area roughly the size of Panama is lost due to deforestation. This produces a significant amount of greenhouse gas emissions furthering the issue and pushing out natural habitats and species. It is getting worse, not better and we need to make an immediate change if we wish to sustain this planet we all share.
A Brazilian photographer named Sebastião Salgado and his wife Lélia Deluiz decided to start to make a difference by showing what a passionate group of dedicated and hard-working people can do if they work together with the same goal in mind.
Sebastião returned from photographing the Rwandan genocide in the 1990’s exhausted both physically and emotionally after documenting the horrific ordeal. He returned to his native home in Brazil which was once beautiful, lush and green, to see it completely devoid of life from deforestation. There was no wildlife, no trees, nothing.
His wife believed that the land could be restored to its former glory. “The land was as sick as I was – everything was destroyed” stated Sebastião. They decided to replant the forest tree by tree and slowly the insects, birds and fish returned. “Thanks to the increase of trees, I, too, was reborn – this was the most important moment”.
Sebastião and Lélia founded Instituto Terra, which is a small organization that has planted 4 million saplings and brought the forest back from the dead. They study the land in order to plant the native trees. The native trees ensure that the animals will enjoy the area and return.
Making sure that only native plants are returned to the land, the area has absolutely flourished in only 20 years. The wildlife has returned and birds and bugs are filling the air with noises.
Over 172 species of bird have returned as well as 33 species of mammals, 293 species of plants, 15 species of reptiles and 15 species of amphibians. An entire ecosystem has been rebuilt from scratch by a handful of people.
The difference is absolutely breathtaking.
This massive project has inspired millions of people demonstrating how much can change in a short amount of time if you have the right attitude.
The air is so much cleaner, the view is incredible, the area is thriving!
“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.” Stated Salgado.
What the Salgado’s have done is nothing short of amazing and proves that we still have hope for our home. We have done nothing but ultimately abuse and shorten our sustainability here on this rock we are so lucky to have. If we work together with a motivated and healthy attitude, we can bring our earth back to thriving. We need to raise awareness and work together making small impacts to eventually make a bigger impact.