Brazilian Couple Created 1,502-Acre Forest In 20 Years, Which Houses 500+ Endangered Plant & Animal Species

Image Credits: Instituto Terra

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In the early 1990s, Brazilian photojournalist Sebastião Ribeiro Salgado was stationed in Rwanda to cover the horrific accounts of Rwanda genocide. The on-ground experience left him traumatised. In 1994, he was returning to his home in Minas Gerais, Brazil, with a heavy heart, hoping to find solace in the lap of a lush green forest, where he had grown up. But, instead, he found dusty, barren land for miles and miles, in place of the forest. In only a few years, his beautiful hometown underwent rampant deforestation, leaving it fallow and devoid of all the wildlife. For him, everything was destroyed. “The land was as sick as I was. Only about 0.5% of the land was covered in trees,’ he shared in an interview with The Guardian. Salgado was shattered.

Saldago’s wife wanted to recreate the forest

It was at this time that Salgado’s wife Lélia made a near-impossible proposal. She expressed her wish to replant the entire forest. Salgado supported her idea, and together the couple set out on a heroic mission.

Brazil Photographer Forest

Salgado bought an abandoned cattle ranch from his parents and started building a network of enthusiastic volunteers and partners who would fund and sustain their mammoth project. In 1998, the couple founded Instituto Terra – the organisation which tirelessly worked to bring a forest back to life.

Brazil Photographer Forest
PNHR Bulcão Farm | by Weverson Rocio – 2012

Salgado sowed the first seed in December 1999. The couple hired around 24 workers in the beginning and was later joined by numerous volunteers over the years. They worked day and night – from uprooting the invasive weeds to planting new seedlings. Soon, their hard work bore fruit as tropical trees native to the region started flourishing in the area. They received a donation of over one lakh saplings which gave rise to a dense forest. The handcrafted forest comprises mostly of local arboreal and shrub varieties. Latest satellite imagery revealed how a soothing green forest cover has enveloped the area which once was a devastating arid eyesore.

Since 1998, they have planted more than 2 million saplings of 293 species of trees and rejuvenated 1,502 acres of tropical forest. The biodiversity-rich zone has recently been declared as a Private Natural Heritage Reserve (PNHR).

The impact of Salgado’s forest

The afforestation project, which is undoubtedly one of the greatest environmental initiatives in the world, has also helped to control soil erosion and revived the natural springs in the area. Eight water springs which once dried up, flow at around 20 litres per minute at present, relieving the drought-prone region of its woes. Salgado’s forest also happens to solve the much-debated notion about climate change, proving that the trend can be reversed if tried. His forest has resulted in causing more rainfall to the area and cooler weather, bringing a drastic and desirable change in the climate.

Brazil Photographer Forest
Instituto Terra’s Fauna | by Leonardo Merçon – 2012

The most important positive aspect of the forest till now has to be the return of the lost fauna. More than 172 species of birds, 33 species of mammals, 15 species of amphibians and reptiles have been spotted in the forest interiors, something which was beyond imagination two decades ago. Many of the plant and animal species in his forest actually feature on the endangered list.

Efforts For Good take

Climate change is a harsh reality. Mankind is bearing the brunt of the relentless destruction they inflicted on the planet. Yet, people like Salgado and Lélia fill us with hope, proving that patience and persistence can be our keys to heal the wounds of nature. If two people can create a 1502-acre forest in just 20 years, then imagine how much can be done if everyone comes together to protect the environment. It must be reminded that for every tree we plant, we are adding 118 kgs of oxygen to the air every year, and reducing the carbon footprint by 22 kgs.

Efforts For Good urges all the readers to actively engage in planting trees and gradually turn this into a fixed habit.

Also Read: In 2007 He Planted Just One Tree, Now Every Year His Organisation Plants More Than 1,00,000 Trees

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‘Happy Fridge’: The Key To Bridge Food Wastage And Hunger Problem In India

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Rahul Khera and Gautam Jindal, volunteers (aka hunger heroes) at Feeding India, were among the many Delhi NCR residents accustomed to seeing hungry children pick up half-eaten burgers or stale sandwiches from the dustbin and savour those with the brightest smiles. Like many others, they also had the will to promote equitable food distribution but was perplexed about the approach, until they learnt about the community fridge initiative which has gained unprecedented success in Saudi Arabia and few other European countries. Meanwhile, community fridges were already being installed outside restaurants or in public places in a handful of cities like Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Coimbatore and Kochi.

Say Goodbye To Throwing Away Excess Food Because Now You Can Donate The Food To The Needy – Happy Fridge

Thank you for overwhelming response for the Happy Fridge concept. We need more funds from you to install more fridges like this across India. With the limited funds avaialble Feeding India was able to install three fridges only. Kindly donate here http://bit.ly/happyfridge

Posted by The Logical Indian on Saturday, October 27, 2018

Needless to mention, with a shocking 103rd rank in the Global Hunger Index and a food wastage estimate of around Rs 58,000 crore – India was perhaps the best country to implement such an initiative. With Gautam’s help, an enthusiastic Rahul invested his own savings to install a ‘Happy Fridge’ outside his residence at Sun City, Sector 54 in Gurgaon. Set up in 2017 by these Feeding India volunteers, the fridge in Gurgaon has inspired the NGO to scale up the project across India.

No one has ever become poor by giving
– Anne Frank

‘Happy Fridge’ fostered many smiles

It didn’t take long for the local residents to learn about this laudable endeavour. They welcomed it, as wastage of excess food was a recurring problem in almost every household. “Intimating the localities was no mammoth task, thanks to social media. However, it was difficult to spread the word among those who actually needed the food,” shares Rahul, who went from auto stands to slums, inviting rickshaw pullers, ragpickers or roadside vendors to avail the community fridge any time they feel hungry. “The security guards of our residential complex played a huge role in explaining how the fridge works to the beneficiaries,” he adds.

The operational and maintenance costs of the ‘ happy fridge ‘ are being maintained diligently by the community members.

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Making memories, sprouting awareness

“I remember one young man who had arrived from a village looking for some menial day job. Somehow he had run out of his paltry savings and had no money to buy one decent meal a day. For about a month, our happy fridge was his solace, till he earned his first salary from a housekeeping job,” shares a jubilant Rahul.

In another incident, a truck driver returning in the wee hours of midnight was starving after a whole day’s hard work. He had run out of cooking fuel at his home, so our fridge was at his rescue.

“The residents keep all sorts of palatable dishes in the happy fridge, ranging from dry snacks, fruits to cooked meals. Sometimes, they even keep raw vegetables, to ensure not a single bit of good food ends up in their trash while other people go hungry to bed,” reveals Rahul.

On an average, each happy fridge supplies around 10-15 meals in a day. The gratitude and pure smiles of the hungry souls after a fulfilling meal are more than enough to continue to motivate Rahul and his neighbours. In fact, inspired by him, many other communities in the Delhi-NCR region set up community fridges in their areas.

Feeding India will set up 500 Happy Fridges

Since the past few years, Feeding India has been a prominent organisation working in the forefront to solve the hunger problem in India. Primarily, they were involved in redistributing leftover food from weddings and parties among the underprivileged people in different cities of India. Their volunteers, better known as “Hunger Heroes of India”, worked actively to bridge the gap between food wastage and food crisis.

“We used to get a lot of calls from individual households to collect their excess food. However, unfortunately, we lacked the manpower and planning to launch our programme on a door to door basis. We were desperately looking for an alternative when we learnt about the community fridges,” shares Srishti Jain, co-founder of Feeding India.

After interacting with Rahul Khera and other campaigners of community fridges, Feeding India decided to amplify this extraordinary project throughout the length and breadth of India. Presently, they have launched the #FightFoodWaste campaign to install 500 community fridges – nicknamed ‘ Happy Fridge ’. So any passer-by – be it a kid going to school without a lunchbox, or a labourer returning home late at night with no promise of a dinner – can now grab a pack of biscuits or a bowl of ‘dal-chawal’ (rice & lentil soup) to satiate their hunger. Click here to contribute for ‘ Happy Fridge ‘ and ensure India never sleeps hungry again.

Feeding India also urges everyone to make a promise to stop wasting food and instead consider donating it to those in need.

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