Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Saturday 23 October |
Saint of the Day: Bl. Severinus Boethius
Aleteia logo
home iconInspiring Stories
line break icon

Brazilian couple replants forest with over 4 million trees


Instituto Terra | Facebook | Fair Use

Cerith Gardiner - published on 05/01/19

A husband-wife team works to heal their land -- and finds healing for themselves, too.

In 1994, famous Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado returned to Brazil after a grueling job reporting on the genocide in Rwanda. He was keen to return to the childhood land he was taking over for his family — land that had provided him with many happy childhood memories, rich forests that offered an escape from the harsh realities he had witnessed in Africa.

To his horror, however, he arrived back to barren land, bereft of the lush green trees and shrubs and the rich variety of wildlife that used to everywhere — thanks to deforestation.

“The land was as sick as I was – everything was destroyed,” Salgado explained to a group of religious leaders during a summit on climate change in Paris over three years ago. In fact the photographer estimated that only 0.5% of the land was covered in trees when he returned.

Instituto Terra | Facebook | Fair Use

Salgado’s wife came up with the wonderful idea of replanting trees on their land in Minas Gerais. Along with relatives, the Salgados set up the Instituto Terra, an organization that has managed to plant an impressive four million saplings over the years. The results are remarkable.

Land that was completely destroyed by the stripping of its forests is now carpets of green. And while the impact of the work of this devoted couple is impressive, Salgado also explained in the Guardian: “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.”

Back at the summit in 2015 Salgado stated: “We need to listen to the words of the people on the land … if we don’t have some kind of spiritual return to our planet, I fear that we will be compromised.” His words echo Pope Francis’ call to action in the encyclical Laudato Si.


Read more:
Ideas from ‘Laudato Si’ that worked their way into my heart and soul


Read more:
The one personal change that can really help the planet — and your pocket book!

Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
Marinella Bandini
Exclusive: Carlo Acutis as seen by his mother
Philip Kosloski
Padre Pio replied to John Paul II’s letter with a miracle
Theresa Civantos Barber
St. John Paul II’s perfect advice for lasting love in marriage
Cerith Gardiner
A collection of Pope John Paul II’s quotes on some of life’s most...
John Burger
Once considered for top post in Anglican Church, former bishop be...
Philip Kosloski
How kindness begins in your heart
Philip Kosloski
What’s the difference between confession and spiritual direction?
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.