April 13, 2024

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Reforesting Hope: How Sebastião and Lélia Salgado Revived a Barren Land

In the early 1990s, Brazilian photojournalist Sebastião Ribeiro Salgado was assigned to document the genocide in Rwanda, an assignment that profoundly affected him.

Returning to his native Minas Gerais, Brazil, in 1994, Sebastião hoped to reconnect with the verdant forests of his youth.

However, he was met with a starkly different reality – his once flourishing home had become a desolate, barren expanse, devoid of wildlife.

It was then that his wife, Lélia Deluiz Wanick Salgado, suggested the ambitious project of reforesting the entire area. Embracing this vision, Sebastião and Lélia spent the next two decades planting over 2.7 million trees.

Their efforts led to the restoration of 1,500 acres of rainforest, transforming the land into a biodiverse haven for 293 plant species, 172 bird species, and 33 animal species, including some that were nearing extinction.

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