Every Wednesday I write about good people who are doing things to help others. Sometimes it’s very small things, like helping an elderly person carry their groceries, other times it’s big things, like providing homes for the homeless. Today, I am focusing on someone who is ultimately helping to preserve the lives of every living, breathing species by helping clean up the environment. Let’s face it, if we don’t do a lot more than we’re doing and soon, none of the other things will matter before long.
In the early 1990s, Brazilian photojournalist Sebastião Ribeiro Salgado was stationed in Rwanda to cover the accounts of genocide. The on-ground experience left him traumatized.
It was 1994, and he was returning to his childhood home of Minas Gerais, Brazil, hoping to find solace in the lap of a lush green forest where he had grown up. Instead, he found this …Nothing but dusty, barren land for miles and miles. In only a few years, his beautiful hometown had undergone rampant deforestation. The trees were cut down, the wildlife he remembered from his boyhood gone.
“The land was as sick as I was – everything was destroyed. Only about 0.5% of the land was covered in trees. Then my wife had a fabulous idea to replant this forest. And when we began to do that, then all the insects and birds and fish returned and, thanks to this increase of the trees I, too, was reborn – this was the most important moment.”
Salgado and his family set up the Instituto Terra and have now planted more than 2 million trees, transforming the environment. In doing so, he 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.”
And this is what the village of Minas Gerais looks like today …In addition to the trees, 172 species of birds have returned, 33 species of mammals, 15 species of reptiles and 15 species of amphibians. Indeed, I think Señor Salgado has done way more than his share to help save this planet, don’t you?
In this short video Portuguese is spoken, however the English subtitles are excellent, and the video is well worth the 5 minutes spent watching.
We don’t all have access to enough land to plant 2 million trees. Some of us don’t have land on which to plant a single tree, but if you do … then plant one! Lots of people planting a single tree eventually makes a forest! And if you’re like me, you rent and cannot plant a single tree, plant flowers! The bees will love you for it, and you will, in your own small way, be helping to save the planet, for the bee population is greatly reduced, and without them, folks, we would not have food to eat. Period. Speaking of bees … one last thing here, I was directed to a blog by an artist named Jodi, and her Sunday post did an excellent job of addressing the “bee crisis” as it were, in a concise summation. Please drop in and check out her Bee Happy post!