Many of us cry foul at the deteriorating condition of the environment but how many of us are willing to take up the gauntlet of doing something for the environment? In a heart-warming act, a Brazilian couple took the initiative of replanting a whole forest in 1,502 acres of land.

It all started when photographer Salgado returned after reporting on the genocide in Rwanda in 1994 and was appalled to see the miserable condition of a forest he was very close to. In order to do something useful he auctioned his camera to nourish  the plants.

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

“Perhaps we have a solution. 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,” he added.

Replanting of the barren land

Determined to revive it, he and his wife slogged day and night for two decades to make the area greener. The duo also set up Instituto Terra, a community non-profit non-governmental organisation working in the territory of the Valley of the River Doce between the states of Minas Gerais and Espírito Santo. With their support, they have managed to plant more than 20 lakh saplings of 293 species of trees. Over 24 employees and a number of volunteers backed them in their mission.

Their hard work bore fruit as the almost barren land was full of trees. Also animals, insects, birds and fishes started populating it again.

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

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

Besides this, the afforestation has also revived eight natural springs.

Bringing about a change

Deforestation is a burning issue that has a catastrophic impact on our environment. The couple, through this environmental initiative, has proved that everyone has the power to fix the problems around us. It just requires one to be determined, aware and collaborative.

If every single person in the world pledges to plant one tree, we would have billions of new trees. And, we will be able to do away with so many climatic conundrums and steer towards reversing the impact of global warming. Dedicated people like Salgado are showing us how that can be done. More power to them!

Also: “Connect with Nature to help the environmentalist within you to grow”

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