I guess you’ve probably heard the saying “the one who plants trees, knowing that he will never sit in their shade, has at least started to understand the meaning of life.”
Well, one couple decided to dream what seemed like an impossible dream over 20 years ago. The difference? They are witnessing the blooming of a natural rain forest grow on what was once barren land.
Brazilian photojournalist Sebastiao Ribeiro Salgado and his wife Leli returned to their family’s sprawling cattle ranch in Minas Gerais after returning from East Africa where they documented the Rwanda genocide.
The cattle ranch, which was once a lush and lively rain forest, was practically destroyed and all the wildlife had disappeared. He remembers surveying the ranch and thinking “the land was as sick as I was.”
His wife, Lelia came up with what seemed like an impossible idea: to replant the rain forest, one tree at a time. The couple set up the Instituto Terra, an environmental organisation to accomplish their mission. Over the next several years, the team slowly but surely rebuilt the 1,754-acre forest. The barren land became an abundant rain forest once again
The forest continues to thrive with hundreds of species of birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles, many of which are endangered.
This rejuvenation has had a huge impact on the ecosystem and climate in the area. Ultimately, this major feat of faith saved more than the local landscape, animals and fish. Salgado shares that thanks to the plants and the trees, he, too, was reborn again.
Their story serves as a reminder to all human beings. Dream the impossible dream and help change the planet. You might just sit underneath the metaphorical trees that grow from the seeds that you decide to plant.
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