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1-min read

How a Brazil Couple Turned a Barren Wasteland into Dense Forest in 20 Years

The regenerated forest also boasts of 172 species of birds, 33 mammal species, 293 species of plants, 15 reptile species, and 15 amphibian species and was recently declared a Private Natural Heritage Reserve.

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Updated:April 27, 2019, 2:05 PM IST
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How a Brazil Couple Turned a Barren Wasteland into Dense Forest in 20 Years
Image credit: institutoterra.
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The air is bad, the water is polluted and the forests are gone.

While most of us sulk over environmental degradation taking a toll on the planet, a regenerated forest in Brazil has become the symbol of a photographer and his wife’s two-decade-long perseverance to one of the greatest environmental initiatives in the world.

Brazilian photographer Sebastiano Salgado was back home after covering the horrific Rwandan genocide in 1994 and expected some succour from a tropical forest he had long been fond off.

What he found instead left him shocked: the trees had disappeared and a barren wasteland was all that remained of the forest.

The Minas Gerais native and his wife Lélia decided to replant some 1,502 acres of forest over the next 20 years.

“The land was as sick as I was—everything was destroyed,” Salgado told The Guardian in 2015.

“Only about 0.5 percent 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.”



Photo credit: www.institutoterra.org

The couple hired over two dozen workers to help them replant the trees; many volunteers joined in, inspired by the couple’s efforts.

Nearly four million saplings have been planted since 1998 as part of the project, which came to be known as Instituto Terra.

The regenerated forest also boasts of 172 species of birds, 33 mammal species, 293 species of plants, 15 reptile species, and 15 amphibian species and was recently declared a Private Natural Heritage Reserve.

The forestation has also helped restore eight natural springs to their past glory.
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