Climate change is one of the biggest - if not the biggest - threat to the continued survival of the human race.
That's why we are all encouraged to do our bit for the environment, whether it's by cutting down on our consumption of animal products, taking shorter showers, or using energy more efficiently in our homes.
One couple, however, has done a lot more than what's recommended. They've replanted an entire forest. Seriously.
Sebastião Salgado is a renowned photographer and the owner of a forest in Aimorés, Brazil. He left to cover the horrific Rwanda genocide in 1994. In his absence, the forest was destroyed, and he returned to find just 0.5% of it covered in trees, The Guardian reported.This is the heartbreaking moment an orangutan tried to fight off a bulldozer destroying its habitat:
He told the British newspaper:
"The land was as sick as I was - everything was destroyed. Only about 0.5 percent 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."
Sebastião and his wife Lélia began by hiring around 24 workers, 9gag reports, but they were soon joined by volunteers who also wanted to bring the forest, and by extension the creatures who'd inhabited it, back to life.
The scale of their achievement recently came to the fore of the internet's consciousness on Reddit, where a user posted incredible before and after pictures of their land from 2001 and 2019. They wrote that the forest is now home to "293 plant species, 172 bird species and 33 animal species, some of which were on the verge of extinction."
In replanting the forest, the couple established the Instituto Terra, which has planted a staggering two million trees and given homes to the aforementioned 500+ animal species referenced on Reddit, Science Insanity reports.
Since planting the first seed in 1999, the couple were given a donation of 100K saplings. This has not only changed the landscape but the physical environment, bringing much-needed rainfall and cooler weather to the area as well.
In his interview with the Guardian, the photographer said that this is proof of a simple solution to climate change:
"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."
If this has inspired you to do your bit by planting a tree, you can do so through the nonprofit Plant for the Planet.