In the 1990s, Brazilian photojournalist Sebastião Ribeiro Salgado was in Rwanda covering the genocide, an experience that left him traumatized. When he returned to his town of Minas Gerais, Brazil, he was devastated to find the once lush, green forest he had grown up in was now the victim of deforestation. It only took a few short years for his hometown to be left barren and dusty.
So Salgado and his wife, Lélia, decided to do something about it. They came up with a plan to replant the forest and got to work on their mission. The couple bought an abandoned cattle ranch and built a network of volunteers and partners to bring their passion project to life. Since 1998, they’ve planted over 2.7-million saplings and 293-species of trees and have rejuvenated 1,502 acres of tropical rainforest!
With all the plant life and trees, the animals have returned as well, including 172 species of birds, 33 species of mammals and 15 species of amphibians. Salgado says, ‘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.”