I wish I could say that for every piece of bad news in the world there is a piece of countering good news, but unfortunately, that is not true. However, every once in a while, we do hear about someone doing a good deed which warms our heart and proves that there are good people in the world.
One of the issues plaguing our planet in the last few decades is deforestation. Only in the last thirty years, 129 million hectares of forest have been completely lost from the planet, reports the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization. To put it in context, that’s the size of South Africa and, to make things worse, around 75,000 square km of forest are lost every year. Deforestation can cause climate change, desertification, soil erosion as well as the loss of a home to many animal species, so, to put it plainly, it’s bad and we should be doing everything we can to stop it.
And some people already are making a significant impact on tackling the issue.
Meet Sebastião Salgado, a Brazilian photographer and his wife Lélia Deluiz Wanick Salgado who managed to revive a Brazilian rainforest.
In 1994, Sebastião Salgado had just returned from an assignment to report on the genocide in Rwanda when he came to his home in the state of Minas Gerais and found the trees cut and what was once a tropical paradise gone along with its wildlife.
So, he and his wife decided to take charge and do something about it.
Together, Sebastião and Lélia founded Instituto Terra, a small organization that has planted 2 million plants so far, and managed to give the life back in a dead forest.
Speaking to The Guardian back in 2015, Saldago said:
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.
They made sure that that they only planted trees that were native to the land to make sure they would flourish and make a home for the local animals.
“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,” he told the publishing. “And if you plant forests that don’t belong, the animals don’t come there and the forest is silent.”
So, because they were so meticulous in their research and the plants they chose, trees have sprung tall and strong, the forest is thriving, and there’s wildlife all around.
The animals that have returned include 172 species of birds, 33 species of mammals, 15 species of reptiles and 15 species of amphibians, in addition to 293 species of plants.
An entire ecosystem, which would otherwise have been left for dead, has been recovered due to their initiative.
Photo Credits: Weverson Rocio
“Perhaps we have a solution,” Salgado said, talking about climate change. “There is a single being which can transform CO2 to oxygen, which is the tree. We need to replant the forest.”
“We need to listen to the words of the people on the land,” he continued. “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.”
His story is reminiscent of that of Jadav Molai Payeng, a man solely responsible for planting 1,200 hectares of trees over a period of thirty years. His story is also truly inspiring and his actions have earned him the title of “The Forest Man Of India”. Read all about it here.