Sebastião Ribeiro Salgado is a renowned Brazilian photographer and photojournalist, but a lot of people don’t know that he and his wife, Lélia, are responsible for one of history’s most impressive environmental restoration projects. For the last 20 years, this dynamic duo has almost completely recovered a section of the Atlantic Forest by planting 2.7 million saplings over the last 20 years. But not only did the reforestation project bring a seemingly lifeless piece of land back to life, but it saw the return of a wide array of animal life to the area thanks to these two amazing people.
In the early ‘90s, Brazilian photographer Sebastião Ribeiro Salgado covered the genocide in Rwanda.
The experience really haunted him, so he actually looked forward to returning home to Minas Gerais, Brazil in 1994. He hoped to find comfort among the lush green forest he had grown up seeing.
José Cruz/ABr / CC BY 3.0 br
Sadly, he found miles of a barren wasteland after his hometown experience massive deforestation.
Only 0.5% of the area contained trees. The land was sick and so was he. But there was a glimmer of hope. Salgado’s wife, Lélia suggested they try to replant the whole forest, which sounded like an impossible mission.
Most people would have deemed Lélia insane, but Salgado supported his wife’s awesome idea.
The couple set out to perform this major undertaking, and they started by buying an abandoned cattle ranch from his folks. Then they acquired partners who would fund their project and volunteers eager to help them see the project through.
Approximately 15 percent of greenhouse emissions are the result of deforestation.
When a forest undergoes massive deforestation, humanity loses, but so do animals. Countless species of animals and plants are lost as a result of these actions. But the Salgado family wasn’t about to stand by and do nothing.
Most people would have felt completely powerless in the face of this environmental carnage.
Deforestation is a process that happens fast, but bringing a forest back to life can take years—decades even. A lot of people in Salgado and his wife’s case would have felt helpless, but they were determined.