Reforestation Project By Brazilian Photographer Brings Fruitful Results For Him And His Wife

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Sebastiao Salgado is a famous Brazilian photographer. He has been working on reforestation in his native region for the past 20 years along with his wife, Lelia. Sebastiao is certainly a world-renowned photographer but now he has emerged as a beacon for the entire world. He has founded the Instituto Terra along with Lelia and the couple has been at the forefront of initiating force behind the reforestation project.


They have successfully reforested the old ranch that happens to be a family land situated in Aimores in Brazil. This ranch is only a 10-hour drive from the coast of Rio. This industrious couple has created a tropical rainforest within a span of 20 years. This rainforest covers a vast land of 600 hectares.

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The duo started their reforestation project on a completely washed-out barren piece of land that had washed-out slopes. As a result, their planting process was time-consuming and meticulously planned out as the reforestation took place meter by meter. After many years of effort, the couple planted almost 2.7 million trees in the Mata Atlantic which had been heavily deforested by the 20th century. This Atlantic forest had transformed into mountainous coastal terrain in eastern and northern Brazil.

Brazil’s Reforestation Project Paves Way For The Future

The deforested terrain now has 293 different kinds of plant species like grasses, flowers, shrubs, and mosses that are not found anywhere else in the world. The variety of trees is especially impressive and vast-ranging including cerejeira, cascudeira, sapucaia, candeia, peroba, and others.

Along with the varied kinds of trees, the reforestation has brought back several threatened and vulnerable animals into the population in this ranch. There are 172 kinds of birds living in the arboreal realms. Insects, mammals, rodents, and reptiles have also made a come-back. Puma is occasionally sighted in this forest. This has made this reforestation project by Sebastiao a flagship effort and paves a way for others as well.

This project was the brainchild of Lelia who seemed distressed about her husband’s health that had taken a downhill turn. Sebastiao started suffering from a deteriorated health whereby his urine had turned blood-red and he was suspected of having cancer. However, upon intense examination, his doctors informed him that he actually suffered from a psychological ailment rather than a physical disease.

As a result, the Salgado couple took a break and started spending time in the native ranch in Brazil. Soon they realized that the land had severely deteriorated because earlier it could provide a livelihood to almost 30 families. The land boasted enormous livestock and fertile land with sugarcane and rice paddies. Moreover, the annual rainfall was reduced to 600 mm from 1,200 per square meter.

Deterioration Of Fertile Land


Although the initial idea of Instituto Terra had not been welcomed by the people living in Minas Gerais, they quickly came around. It began awakening the environmental awareness for the conservation and restoration of forest land. New technologies were used to amplify the existing development models. Soon it became a full-fledged center with numerous educational projects, municipalities, and resource facilities.

As of now, Salgados have managed to plow 2 out of 3 million dollars in this project, although the actual figure needed remains unknown. The couple has fostered an amazing way to restore nature and transform it into thriving biodiversity that acts as an inspiration for the rest of the world.

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Presently, only 10% of the entire land remains to undergo reforestation. They also intend to continue their environmental project that aims on increasing the number of species in the region as well as beyond the ranch.

Feature Image Credits: Sebastiao Salgado

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