Photographer And His Wife Plant 2 Million Trees In 20 Years To Restore A Destroyed Forest And Even The Animals Have Returned

  
Via:  ender  •  3 weeks ago  •  18 comments

Photographer And His Wife Plant 2 Million Trees In 20 Years To Restore A Destroyed Forest And Even The Animals Have Returned

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T


According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, 129 million hectares of forest, an area almost equivalent in size to South Africa, have been lost from the Earth forever since 1990. An area roughly the size of the country of Panama is being lost each and every year.

With some 15 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions come from deforestation, and countless species of plants and animals losing their habitats every single day, these are absolutely devastating figures for the health of our planet, and it simply cannot be allowed to continue.

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(Image credits: Ricaro Beliel)

But what to do in the face of such massive environmental carnage? It can make the individual feel small and helpless, as we ponder the impact that we can actually make. Will anything that we do make the slightest bit of difference? Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado and his wife Lélia Deluiz Wanick Salgado decided to show what a small group of passionate, dedicated people can do by turning deforestation on its head, and begin the process of reforestation.

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(Image credits: Sebastiao Salgado)

Because really, Mother Nature is a hardy soul that will always find a way to bounce back, given the right conditions. Salgado is a renowned figure, having won nearly every major award in photojournalism and publishing more than a half-dozen books. Back in the 1990s, exhausted physically and emotionally after documenting the horrific barbarity of the Rwandan genocide, he returned home to his native area of Brazil, which was once covered in lush tropical rainforest. He was shocked and devastated to find that the area was now barren and devoid of wildlife, but his wife Lélia believed that it could be restored to its former glory.

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(Image credits: institutoterra)

“The land was as sick as I was – everything was destroyed,” Salgado said in The Guardian back in 2015. “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.”

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(Image credits: institutoterra)

Together, Sebastião and Lélia founded Instituto Terra, a small organization that has since planted 4 million saplings and has brought the forest back from the dead. “Perhaps we have a solution,” Salgado said. “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.”

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(Image credits: institutoterra)

And so, after taking utmost care to ensure that everything planted is native to the land, the area has flourished remarkably in the ensuing 20 years. Wildlife has returned, where there was a deathly silence there is now a cacophony of birdcalls and insects buzzing around.

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(Image credits: institutoterra)

In all, some 172 bird species 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 rebuilt from scratch.

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(Image credits: institutoterra)

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(Image credits: Sebastião Salgado)

The project has inspired millions by giving a concrete example of positive ecological action and showing how quickly the environment can recover with the right attitudes.

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(Image credits: Weverson Rocio)

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(Image credits: Sebastião Salgado)

“We need to listen to the words of the people on the land,” Salgado explained. “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.”

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(Image credits: YASUYOSHI CHIBA)

By​Ilona

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Ender
1  seeder  Ender    3 weeks ago

 
 
 
Ender
2  seeder  Ender    3 weeks ago

One couple can have this much of an impact.

There is endangered plants and animals that returned to this new oasis.

There are even some orchids growing.

Beautiful. I take a bow to what these two have done.

 
 
 
Greg Jones
2.1  Greg Jones  replied to  Ender @2    3 weeks ago

It's a good thing they are doing, I have been involved in similar projects here in Colorado doing restoration.

Sadly, clearing of the forests is still going on with no end in sight.

 
 
 
Tacos!
3  Tacos!    3 weeks ago

Wow, this is great! I'd love to see more people doing this.

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
4  Trout Giggles    3 weeks ago

Wow....this guy is an inspiration! Look at what he's accomplished. Thanks for seeding this, Ender

 
 
 
Kavika
5  Kavika     3 weeks ago

What a legacy this couple will be leaving...

Kudos to them.

A wonderful and informative video...

Outstanding article, Ender. Thanks.

 
 
 
Ender
5.1  seeder  Ender  replied to  Kavika @5    3 weeks ago

They have said that even rainfall increased in the area and once dried up springs have come back to life.

Absolutely amazing.

 
 
 
Kavika
5.1.1  Kavika   replied to  Ender @5.1    3 weeks ago

Water and the farmers cows are giving milk when the farmers didn't know that they could produce milk...

It's simply amazing. 

 
 
 
Larry Hampton
6  Larry Hampton    3 weeks ago

We need to do this all over.

 
 
 
Badfish H҉a҉n҉d҉ ҉o҉f҉ ҉D҉o҉o҉m҉
7  Badfish H҉a҉n҉d҉ ҉o҉f҉ ҉D҉o҉o҉m҉    3 weeks ago

A few years ago I had the opportunity to vacation at an eco resort in an area that was once farmland. It was a pristine rain forest that had been scalped. The government repurchased the land and then the most amazing thing happened. First one of the first green peace activists came in and bought land around the forest, then others came in and they landlocked the National park with privately owned reserves. Soon most of the peninsula was owned by private reserves that land locked this pristine land.

The private owners created true eco resorts that are 100% sustainable with a goal of being carbon neutral. The resort I stayed at powered the entire resort with one hydroelectric pump that utilized under 7% of the river flow of a stream. Truly amazing. They used solar dryers for laundry and recycle everything, i mean everything.

They also reached out to the local farmers and brought in organic farmers to teach them to grow with zero pesticides. All the food was organic and amazing. Those farmers who fought the change found out quickly they had no customers so they eventually assimilated.

I had an opportunity to speak with one of the eco resort owners, a Spanish Man and early green peace leader. He told me something that really resonated with me. He told me that politics has nothing to do with conservation. Governments are not reliable and it is up to the private citizen to conserve. I'm sure we have very different ideas politically but that isn't why we were talking, we were talking because we both had something in common. We love nature, habitat and the ecosystem in this area. We cannot rely on government, we can rely on what's available to us. This type of model is what can really work. Government has a treasure, we come in and ensure it will be there forever.

 
 
 
Ender
7.1  seeder  Ender  replied to  Badfish H҉a҉n҉d҉ ҉o҉f҉ ҉D҉o҉o҉m҉ @7    3 weeks ago

That was Costa Rica wasn't it?

I like how they didn't block the whole river flow for the power.

 
 
 
Freefaller
8  Freefaller    3 weeks ago

I read about what this guy was doing a couple years ago. Very cool

 
 
 
Raven Wing
9  Raven Wing    3 weeks ago

It is amazing how Mother Earth responds to a bit of TLC from the givers after the takers have ravaged her and turned away. 

It was indeed a lot of hard work to make their dream come true, but, the efforts are worth it. The area is once again as beautiful land, and a gift to the animals and birds who can once again call it 'home'.

 
 
 
Ender
9.1  seeder  Ender  replied to  Raven Wing @9    3 weeks ago

Hopefully with the institute they created, the area will be preserved for generations to come.

 
 
 
Raven Wing
9.1.1  Raven Wing  replied to  Ender @9.1    3 weeks ago

I hope so too. And I hope that those who trashed the area in the beginning won't do the same again once it has fully recovered. The greedy only know what puts money in their pockets, and the earth be damned. 

 
 
 
Tacos!
10  Tacos!    3 weeks ago

Where did the water come from? They don't seem to say how they restored that but they make clear that it's essential.

 
 
 
Ender
10.1  seeder  Ender  replied to  Tacos! @10    3 weeks ago

It doesn't specify. It did say rainfall increased, maybe that has something to do with it.

 
 
 
Tacos!
10.1.1  Tacos!  replied to  Ender @10.1    3 weeks ago

Yeah, I saw that and that's a great side effect of the planting. But it's a chicken and egg deal. You need water to make the trees grow in the first place. Just curious how they managed that.

 
 
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