One Tree in a Billion
One Tree in a Billion
A unique project photographing the amazing wildlife around one tree in the rainforest, showing the immense scale of biodiversity loss
A unique project photographing the amazing wildlife around one tree in the rainforest, showing the immense scale of biodiversity loss Read more
About this project
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.
Where 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 Saddleback Tamarins.
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 fallen fruit.
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 unharmed afterwards.
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 unharmed.
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 photography.
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 herpetologist.
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 as possible.
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 audience.
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 accompanying text.
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
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.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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