From now onwards we look into solutions and people who have actively played part in this.
Part 2 will introduce you to Instituto Terra, an organization that specializes in reforestation, particularly in the Brazilian rainforest.
In 1994 the Brazilian photojournalist Sebastião Ribeiro Salgado returned home to his native Brazil with his wife Lelia. Both had grown up in the region but lived in France for most of their adult life. There Salgado became a known photojournalist, reporting on indigenous tribes and refugees, from Ethiopia, Rwanda, and even Bosnia. He won many prizes for this journalistic work.
But then his father got ill and he returned home to his family farm. Upon his return, the couple was shocked at how the land had eroded. The lush forests and streams had gone and the farm where Salgado had grown up was now a wasteland. (see map below). Less than 1% of the original vegetation and wildlife had remained. It was time to act.
Lelia had the idea to replant the forest which they did. In fact, they planted over 2 million trees! And the results are stunning. Over 20 years later, the land is unrecognizable. Gone are the barren hills and instead the area is full of trees and wildlife. Even water has returned nourishing the newly planted forest.
Having had success on their own land by turning this once barren land once more into a lush 1,754 acres rain forest, the couple set up the Institutio Terra. This organization is showing other farmers and landowners how to return their eroded land to a wildlife sanctuary. Once the forest returns, the improved soil structure prevents flash floods and making it possible for wildlife to return. Now this once barren soil, is home to more than 293 species of trees and many animals have returned, too. Instituto Terra has become a center for research for reforestation, but more importantly, it has become a wonderful place to visit and live.
If you want to find out more about Sebastião Ribeiro Salgado please watch the excellent documentary Salt of the Earth by Wim Wenders that tells his life story and how he became this exceptional social photographer.