This is a story that will leave you with the thought that there is still hope in saving this amazing planet. Sadly, stories like this are becoming even rarer as each day goes by, as the destruction of our planet goes on at full speed.

This is a success story named ‘The Mammoth Project’ that has planted over 290 different types of trees, and as a result have seen an amazing return of many different types of species such as birds, reptiles, mammals, insects and amphibians.

The whole idea of this project is to bring awareness that humanity needs to wake up and start making repairs to restore and conserve forest land before it’s too late.

Please share this story as much as you can so we can bring awareness to the deforestation problem the world is facing.

This project is the result of an ambitious initiative taken in the late 1990s by renowned Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado and his wife Lélia Deluiz Wanick Salgado. Confronting environmental devastation in and around a former cattle ranch bought from Salgado’s family near the town of Aimorés, in Brazil’s state of Minas Gerais, they decided to return the property to its natural state of subtropical rainforest. The ongoing results are truly amazing.

The Dream of Planting a Forest in Brazil Gave Birth to the ‘Instituto Terra’

When celebrated Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado took over family land in the state of Minas Gerais, instead of the tropical paradise that he remembered as a child, he found the trees cut down and the wildlife gone.

He was devastated. It was 1994 and he had just returned from a traumatic assignment reporting on the genocide in Rwanda.

“The land was as sick as I was – everything was destroyed,”  Salgado told The Guardian. “Only about 0.5% of the land was covered in trees.”

Salgado’s wife, Lélia Deluiz Wanick Salgado, had the idea to replant the forest. When they began to do that, all the insects and birds and fish began to return.

Salgado and his family recruited partners, raised funds and, in April 1998, they founded the the Instituto Terra and have now planted more than 2 million trees, totally transforming the environment.

In doing so, Salgado says he has found one answer to climate change – as well as creative inspiration.

“Perhaps we have a solution. There is a single being which can transform CO2 to oxygen, which is the tree. We need to replant the forest. 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.

“We need to listen to the words of the people on the land. 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.”

Source: InstitutoTerra

The Instituto Terra committed itself to the recovery of the 1,502 acres of rainforest in the Bulcão Farm in Aimorés, Minas Gerais The farm was completely devastated when, in 1998, it received the title of Private Natural Heritage Reserve (PNHR). The former cattle ranch originally covered 1,740 acres. The first planting was carried out in December 1999, and since then, year after year, with the support of important associates, it has been possible to plant over two million seedlings of more than 290 species of trees, recreating a forest of arboreal and shrub species native to the Atlantic Forest.


A Beacon to Awaken Environmental Awareness of the Need to Restore and Conserve Forest Land

From the moment they founded the Instituto Terra, Lélia Deluiz Wanick Salgado and Sebastião Salgado, saw the institute as serving as a beacon to awaken environmental awareness of the need to restore and conserve forest land.

Recognising education and research as key components of this strategy, on February 19, 2002, the Instituto Terra created the Center for Environmental Education and Restoration (CERA).

It’s mission is to contribute to the process of environmental restoration and to the sustainable development of the Atlantic Forest, with special emphasis on the Basin of the River Doce.

Through CERA, new technologies are shared, throwing fresh light on existing models of development. The ultimate aim is to engage new participants in the battle to achieve sustainable development.

By December 2012, over 700 educational projects had been developed, embracing 65,000 people in more than 170 municipalities of the Valley of the River Doce, covering both the states of Espírito Santo and Minas Gerais. Some projects have reached as far as the states of Bahia and Rio de Janeiro.


Fauna are returning: many species that were disappearing now find a secure home in Balcão Farm Among birds, 172 species have been identified, of which six are in danger of extinction. There are 33 species of mammals, two of which are in the process of world-wide extinction (classified as ‘vulnerable’). There are also 15 species of amphibians; 15 species of reptiles; and 293 species of plants.


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This article originally appeared in BrightVibes

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Deforestation | National Geographic

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