Couple revamp barren land into glorious forest… enticing the animals to return

A Brazilian couple have replanted an entire forest of 2million trees over the last 20 years, revamping their wasteland into a glorious paradise. 

Sebastião Ribeiro Salgado and his wife Lélia Deluiz Wanick Salgado returned to his old cattle ranch in 1994, devastated to find the area devoid of wildlife. 

After Lélia decided to replant the forest, four years later the couple founded the Instituto Terra, an environmental organisation dedicated to the sustainable development of the valley.

Fast-forward to the present, and the area has flourished with hundreds of species now calling the former ranch home. 

There are 300 species of trees, more than 170 species of birds, 30 species of mammals and 15 species of amphibians and reptiles – many of which are endangered. 

Their impressive sanctuary sits across a whopping 1,750-acre forest. 

Mr Salgado, now 75, explained: “The land was as sick as I was – everything was destroyed. Only about 0.5% of the land was covered in trees.”

Thanks to Vale, one of the world’s biggest mining companies and reforestation experts, the couple received 100,000 seedlings to help rejuvenate the dead soil. 

Salgado added: “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.” 

The institute, which also trains and supports local farmers, is said to be a “laboratory for the world”, showing how caring for the land can improve water and climate control.

Following the couple’s efforts, the land’s ecosystem has been jolted back to life, with several dried-up springs now positively affecting local temperatures. 

The Salgados no longer own the property, with the nature preserve now a federally recognised area that trains young ecologists and welcomes visitors annually.