CI Photojournal: Nature Meets Culture in South America

Every year on April 22, Earth Day is celebrated with nature hikes, beach cleanups and numerous other gatherings designed to help people get back in touch with nature.

But in some of the most beautiful and vulnerable places around the world, every day is Earth Day. With the current threats to the planet — climate change impacts, continued deforestation, pollution and many more — communities have no other option but to fight every day to protect nature and make sure it can continue to provide all of us with its vital benefits for generations to come.

We recently held a photo contest for CI staff, asking them to use their photos to tell a story about the inextricable connections between people and nature.

Over the next few weeks, Human Nature will be showcasing the photos (and captions) of our three winning entries. We begin today with the submission of Trond Larsen — director of CI’s Rapid Assessment Program (RAP), a field biologist and a stunning photographer to boot.

nature-meets-culture-in-south-america

Photo essay from CI's Trond Larsen
  • © Trond Larsen

    Much of South America’s water originates in the high Andes. Páramo vegetation acts like a sponge to absorb water, which is then delivered downstream to people throughout the Amazon.
  • © Trond Larsen

    South America's forests support the world's highest known species richness and endemism. They also help to maintain a stable climate.
  • © Trond Larsen

    Illegal deforestation and habitat loss are rapidly degrading ecosystems and the benefits they provide to people.
  • © Trond Larsen

    Climate change is affecting local communities who are tightly linked to the land. Farmers are forced to shift where their animals graze as rainfall patterns change.
  • © Trond Larsen

    To adapt to climate change, people also must shift how and where they grow crops.
  • © Trond Larsen

    Economic opportunities for women are scarce in parts of the Andes. Here, a woman in Bolivia sells food along the roadside.
  • © Trond Larsen

    An old woman sits by her hut, where she tends a small crop of coca plants in Bolivia.
  • © Trond Larsen

    Local people depend very heavily on sources of wild food. Native guans, such as this one in Peru, are among the most important and popular foods.
  • © Trond Larsen

    Caiman also provides an important source of protein. In Suriname, CI's RAP program aided indigenous people in the management of Werehpai/Iwana Samu, a sanctuary established to sustain the bushmeat they depend upon.
  • © Trond Larsen

    In Peru, RAP is working to empower indigenous communities to manage their natural resources.
  • © Trond Larsen

    RAP expeditions target key places around the world where scientific data are needed. Working in these places can be extremely challenging.
  • © Trond Larsen

    After the arduous journey, the lure of verdant forests awaits.
  • © Trond Larsen

    RAP scientists continue to discover many species new to science each year. Colorful poison dart frogs are among the most spectacular of South America's biodiversity. The toxins these frogs secrete play an important role in medicine, including heart stimulants and painkillers.
  • © Trond Larsen

    One of the joys of working in diverse tropical forests is that you never know what you will find, especially if you take a walk at night. Here, a wolf spider eats another species of poison dart frog.
  • © Trond Larsen

    A Bolivian boy examines a long-horned beetle. Inspiring and training the next generation of scientists is essential for conservation in the long term.

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