Sebastião Ribeiro Salgado is a Brazilian photojournalist, had a traumatizing experience nearly 30 years ago when he was documenting the terrible events he witnessed in Rwanda during the genocide.
After returning home, his initial plan was to take care of the family business, a cattle ranch in Minas Gerais. But after arriving home, he saw that the lush green area and the local rainforest became the victim of deforestation and only 0.5% remained covered in trees.
This raised other concerns too, such as the disappearance of wildlife from the area and the land needed someone to help it recover. Encouraged by his wife, Lelia, the two started working on a replanting project and they established the Instituto Terra, in 1998.
The organization’s main mission is to facilitate the development of the Valley of the River Doce, focusing on environmentally friendly approaches. With the help of his team, Salgado managed to slowly repopulate the area with trees (1,754-acre forest) and wildlife gradually returned to this bleak area.
The project was so successful that it is now home to 293 species of trees, 172 species of birds, 33 species of mammals, and 15 species of amphibians and reptiles, and the area became a Private Natural Heritage Reserve. Thanks to the Salgados the Valley of the River Doce was reborn and together with nature, Sebastião soul started healing too after the horrors he witnessed in East Africa.