Within 20 years, this couple transformed a barren plot of land into a thriving forest, giving 500+ endangered plant and animal species home and a chance of survival.

Climate change is one of the biggest threats to the continued survival of the human race.

That’s why we’re always encouraged to do our bit for the environment, whether it’s by cutting down on the consumption of animal products, using energy more efficiently in our homes, or protecting our environment from pollution.

One couple, however, has done much more than what’s recommended— they’ve replanted an entire forest.

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Sebastião Salgado is an award-winning photographer and the owner of Aimorés forest in Brazil.

When he left his country to cover the horrific Rwanda genocide in 1994, in his absence, Aimorés forest was destroyed.

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Hoping to find solace in the lap of a green forest, the land he once knew had been eradicated, with only about 0.5% of the land covered in trees.

Salgado told a news outlet:

“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 employing around 24 workers. They were later joined by volunteers who also wanted to replant the forest.

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After a few years, their hard work bore fruits and tropical trees, native to the region, started flourishing in the area.

Since 1999, they’ve planted over 2 million saplings of 293 species of trees, rejuvenating 1,502 acres of tropical forest.

The afforestation project, which is among the greatest environmental initiatives worldwide, has also helped to control soil erosion as well as reviving natural springs in the area.

Eight water springs which once dried up in the area, now flow at present, relieving the drought-prone region off its woes.

This hasn’t only improved the landscape but also the physical environment. It has brought back the much-needed rainfall and cooler weather to the region as well.

In a recent interview with the Guardian, the photographer said that his project is proof of a simple solution to climate change:

“Perhaps we have a solution. There is a single being which can transform CO2 into 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.”