This couple restored an entire forest by planting 2.7 million trees over 20 years
Brazilian photojournalist Sebastião Ribeiro Salgado and his wife Lélia returned home to Minas Gerais, Brazil, after Salgado’s traumatizing stint in Rwanda to cover the Rwandan genocide. The couple hoped to find some peace back home after the gruesome incidents they had come across in Rwanda.
However, they were devastated to find that Salgado’s beautiful hometown had underwent rampant deforestation and there was only dusty, barren land for miles and miles.
It was at this time that Lélia made a near-impossible proposal. She expressed her wish to replant the entire forest. Her husband supported her idea, and together the couple set out on a heroic mission.
Salgado bought an abandoned cattle ranch from his parents and started building a network of enthusiastic volunteers and partners who would fund and sustain their project. In 1998, the couple founded Instituto Terra, the organization which tirelessly worked around the clock to bring the forest back to life.
Since 1998, they have planted more than 2.7 million saplings of 293 species of trees and rejuvenated 1,502 acres of tropical forest.