Brazilian couple who planted a rain forest in 20 years with Two Million Trees

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4 min readApr 3, 2020

Deforestation is a particular concern in tropical rain forests because these forests are home to much of the world’s biodiversity. For example, in the Amazon around 17% of the forest has been lost in the last 50 years, mostly due to forest conversion for cattle ranching. Deforestation in this region is particularly rampant near more populated areas, roads, and rivers, but even remote areas have been encroached upon when valuable mahogany, gold, and oil are discovered.

Photojournalist Sebastião Ribeiro Salgado was horrified to find the once-lush Brazilian rainforest that belonged to his parents had been destroyed by deforestation.

The Brazilian couple started a project to plant two million trees and now, 20 years later, the seeds have grown into a lush forest in the Minas Gerais region of Brazil.

The couple founded a small organization, called Instituto Terra, which helped bring the forest back to life by planting 4 million tree saplings. Sebastião believed they had a solution. “There is a single being that can transform CO2 into oxygen, which is the tree. We need to replant the forest,” said the photographer. “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.”

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