Couple restores dwindling Brazilian forest with 2 million trees over 20 years

The couple made it their mission to replant the receding rainforest of the Bulcão Farm surrounding the family ranch.
The couple made it their mission to replant the receding rainforest of the Bulcão Farm surrounding the family ranch. Photo credit: Instituto Terra

A married couple have restored a barren plot of land into a thriving, healthy rainforest.

Photojournalist Sebastião Ribeiro Salgado, and his wife, Lélia, took it upon themselves to replant the rainforest after witnessing the sad decline of the once flourishing area surrounding the Salgado family cattle ranch. 

Twenty years later, the forest is now fulfilled. The 1754-acre plot is filled with the lush, abundant greenery Salgado remembered from childhood.

Salgado returned to his hometown, Aimorés, in the Minas Gerais region of Brazil nearly 30 years ago after documenting the horrors of the Rwandan genocide.

The subtropical rainforest he remembered had diminished significantly, with trees remaining on only 0.5 per cent of the land.

"The land was as sick as I was - everything was destroyed," Salgado told The Guardian.

The couple established the non-profit, non-governmental organisation Instituto Terra in 1998, a foundation "dedicated to the sustainable development of the Valley of the River Doce", in order to effectively restore the land.

1502 acres of the rainforest now bear the title of Private Natural Heritage Reserve, providing a protected home to 172 types of birds, 33 varieties of mammals and 15 kinds of reptiles and amphibians, Metro reports.

The thriving forest of the Bulcão Farm in 2012.
The thriving forest of the Bulcão Farm in 2012. Photo credit: Instituto Terra

Salgado is a fervent believer in the power of thriving forests, noting that a "spiritual return to our planet" will help in saving the world from continued destruction.

Salgado believes that replanting trees, which convert carbon dioxide to oxygen, is one way people can contribute towards stalling the effects of climate change.

He told The Guardian: "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.

"If you plant forests that don't belong, the animals don't come there and the forest is silent."

Newshub.

Contact Newshub with your story tips:
news@newshub.co.nz