We’re going to do something that is ground breaking in both its scope and ambition. We will photograph and catalogue an array of species that inhabit and travel around just one single tree in the Amazon rainforest. From the ground all the way up to the canopy, more than 100 feet above, we will photograph as many species as we can over a period of two months. We will document the bizarre and fascinating life forms around our chosen tree, ranging from tiny invertebrates all the way up to the large charismatic mammals such as Jaguars, Tapirs and Giant Anteaters.
We will combine traditional methods of photography with more advanced techniques such as extreme macro. Such techniques will allow us to photograph tiny creatures with up to a 5:1 ratio (think of a flea being magnified to the size of a cat!) and to photograph secretive species using infra red beams which detect motion 24 hours a day. Combined, our project will provide the viewer with an inspiring and exciting portrayal of the complex biodiversity inhabiting our chosen tree.
Our chosen tree has been selected for the wealth of its associated biodiversity, but it is merely one tree in a billion, one single organism in an immense and complex web of interconnected living systems. That web is being dismantled around us. One Tree in a Billion Project will illustrate the beauty and value of what we are losing that we must fight to save.
will the project take place?
We have decided on Explorers Inn in the Tambopata,
Peru for the following reasons:
1. The area has an exceptionally high biodiversity;
over 600 species of bird and 1400 species of butterfly have been recorded here!
2. The forest here has been well studied which
allows us to easily and accurately identify the species we photograph.
3. There is no hunting pressure in the area, this
means that the large fauna can still be found here. In fact, the area around
Explorers Inn is a haven for large mammals such as the Jaguar, Puma, and Tapir.
4. The lodge have offered us logistical support, including researchers and transportation. This backup
is vital when working in such a remote region.
5. The lodge has a rich history. This was one of the
first areas protected and the eminent academic and writer E.O Wilson discovered
that there were more species of ant in a single large tree behind Explorers Inn
than in the whole of the British Isles.
Our target species groups:
Our project aims to
photograph a wide range of birds inhabiting and travelling around our subject
tree. The area we are working in contains a bewildering number of birds
and we expect to photograph Antbirds, Flycatchers, Ovenbirds, Manakins and
Hummingbirds with the possibility of also capturing birds of prey such as
Owls and Forest Falcons.
Most of our photography
will be carried out from hides but we will also be collaborating with the
research teams and photographing mist netted birds. Four 12 metre nets will be
set up around our tree which will temporarily catch understory birds. These
birds will be banded, measured by experienced ornithologists and we will take
this opportunity to also photograph them up close. This unique collaboration
will enable us to get fantastic photographs of the many highly secretive birds
which live around our tree.
From the canopy we will
photograph birds such as Macaws and Toucans which will be visiting the tree to
feed on the fruit. The eye level photographs of such species will be visually
spectacular and intimate.
We’ll be photographing the
wide range of mammals that pass by and live in the tree.
One of the main aims of
our project is to photograph cats in their natural environment interacting with
the area around the tree. Our chosen area is inhabited by a range of cats
including Jaguars, Pumas, Ocelots and others.
Higher up in the canopy we
will photograph primates visiting the tree to eat the fruit. There are 9
species of primate in the area ranging from the large Spider Monkeys to tiny
The area is also host to a
number of species from the Pryconidae family including the South American
Coati, Kinkajou, Olingo and the rare Crab-eating Racoon. We will set up infra
red camera traps connected to SLR and flash set ups with the aim of
photographing these shy nocturnal species in action.
Camera traps will be also
running night and day to photograph any large mammals that might visit our
tree. Tapir and Brocket Deer will be attracted to the area as they feed on
Many interesting small
mammals also inhabit the rainforest. They are rarely seen but we aim to
represent them in our portfolio of biodiversity. In collaboration with the
mammal experts in the research team we will use non-lethal traps around the
base and trunk of the tree so we can photograph them before releasing them
Finally, we will also mist
net for bats around the tree after dark. This will provide a unique and unusual
perspective to our portfolio.
Invertebrates will make up
by far the majority of species inhabiting our tree and we want to illustrate
their complex and often bizarre diversity. As there are so many uncategorised
species in this area we will likely be photographing unclassified
species. To photograph as many of these species as possible we will use a wide
array of techniques;
We will set up non lethal
malaise traps both on the forest floor and in the canopy, these will aim to
temporarily trap flying insects which we can photograph before releasing them
As well as photographing
the daytime flying species we will also focus on moth trapping during the
evenings. This will produce a diverse and spectacular abundance of colourful
moth species of all sizes.
With over 1400 species of
butterflies and moths there will be much to photograph including their
beautiful caterpillars, offering great opportunities for some abstract macro
The buttresses are home to
many species including a range of arachnids from tarantulas to amblypygids and
we aim to document these thoroughly.
The very smallest
invertebrates will be photographed through a light microscope to attain an
incredibly high level of magnification.
Reptiles and amphibians
The buttresses of our tree
will be home to frog and lizard species and the higher branches will be
inhabited by snakes such as the emerald tree boa. At night we will use
headlamps to locate frogs by their eye shine. We will also place pitfall traps
around the base of the tree and any captured species will be photographed.
Traps will be checked every few hours to ensure no individual is trapped for
any period of time and we will work in collaboration with an expert
All data from our project
will contribute towards the research organisation’s large data set. Photographs
will be used to create a field guide which will in turn be used to educate
future scientists and volunteers in the area.
The well being of the
animal will be our top priority, and we work with experts to ensure that our
project does not impact negatively on any individuals.
What will we do with the photos?
The importance of the
project is how we will engage with an audience once our portfolio is created.
We want our project to have a long-lasting effect and to inspire as many people
Magazines - Our story is being covered by Photography Monthly magazine, we
have also received firm interest from a number of national and international
magazines that will cover our story and spread our message to an enormous
Exhibitions – We will run several exhibitions in the UK
and funding dependent we would like to exhibit in the U.S. too. We believe it
is also very important (if not more important) to engage local people with
these issues and will therefore be organising a exhibition in Puerto Maldonado,
the small jungle city closest to our rainforest base. The prints used in this
exhibition will then be showcased in various public areas around the town.
Book – We intend to produce a high quality book from the images with
Radio/ TV – We are
currently speaking to a number of radio and production companies who have shown
an interest in following our story. Again, this will convey our message on to
an even wider audience.
School roadshow – educating children is a vital part of
conservation as they are the future guardians of our world. We will take our
portfolio on an interactive road show to UK schools to inspire and educate them
on how important the Amazon rainforest is.
Breakdown of the costs
Transportation - £3500
Accommodation and food - £4000
Exhibitions - £3000
Construction (canopy access, hides etc) - £500
School roadshow - £1000
“The ideas behind this project are both innovative and creative, and will bring an entirely new dimension to the public understanding of how ecosystems work. It should be both scientifically interesting and visually stunning, and on behalf of the World Land Trust wish the project every success. We also hope that this raised awareness will encourage the public to support the conservation activities of the LT and other groups.”
John Burton, CEO of The World Land Trust
“One Tree In A Billion captures the essence of the power of photography and storytelling. What may look like a massive sea of green foliage from above actually consists of billions and billions of interrelated stories about how earth, air, and sky interact with microorganisms, plant and animal life. By narrowing its focus to just one tree maybe we finally will appreciate the immense complexity and power of nature and why it is in our best interests to do all that we can to protect it. That is our hope.”
Brian Erwin, founder of Think Tank Photo
“We are delighted to be supporting The One Tree in a Billion project. It was an easy decision to support ‘One tree in a billion’ as we too are committed to protecting the environment! Since 2007 Páramo has worked with the WLT to offset our primary carbon emissions for the past 10 years. Good luck, we shall be following the project with great enthusiasm.”
Paramo Clothing Ltd
“Wimberley has lent support to the work of conservation photographers around the globe, so it was an easy decision for us to endorse the One Tree In A Billion project. The beauty of photographs is that they don’t need language interpretation to have a tremendous impact on people’s consciousness. Therefore, the viewing of images is one of the most useful methods of communicating to the masses the conditions of our natural surroundings. It is our hope that the images collected and displayed during this project influence those who view them in such a way that they begin to understand the importance of all parts of our collective ecosystem – the fragility of its interconnections, how we as humans are affecting that system, and why it’s important for all of us to consider potential harmful results before we act to destroy important biological habitat in the name of civilization. It’s an important step in educating us about what we have to lose, what we have already lost, and how that ultimately affects us all. Good luck to the team in the field and all others involved with the project!”
Risks and challenges
The rainforest presents many challenges; it is often hard to photograph your intended subject, as animals tend to be incredibly shy and light levels are low. In addition to this the humidity can cause malfunctions with cameras and equipment.
All project members have extensive experience of photographing (and tour leading photography trips) in this area of the Amazon and are well equipped to overcome the issues associated with rainforest photography.
Hides will be set up both on the forest floor and in the canopy in order to photograph shy, elusive animals. We will stay around the tree for a total of two months, which will increase our chances of wildlife encounters. Above all else we will work tirelessly to capture some incredible photos, as we are incredibly passionate about wildlife photography and conservation.
We will also use infra red techniques to photograph shy species passing by the tree overnight.
A combination of weatherproof equipment, pelican cases and silica gel will ensure we are not impeded by humidity.
Jaguar level - donate £3000 and you can come and photograph alongside us in the rainforest for 10 days. This is a unique opportunity to get involved in a groundbreaking project. You'll be tutored by three professional photographers and taken to the best places in the area to photograph a range of amazing species, from giant river otters to macaws. You'll even get the chance to travel to the top of our project tree (if you have a head for heights!!!). This price includes local transportation, accommodation, food etc but excludes flights. Strictly limited to 6 places, contact us or visit our website for more information: