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A unique project photographing the amazing wildlife around one tree in the rainforest, showing the immense scale of biodiversity loss Read more

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Funding Unsuccessful

This project's funding goal was not reached on December 18, 2013.

A unique project photographing the amazing wildlife around one tree in the rainforest, showing the immense scale of biodiversity loss

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.

A Female Jaguar on Las Piedras River, Peru. Photo by Tom Ambrose.
A Female Jaguar on Las Piedras River, Peru. Photo by Tom Ambrose.

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.

One of the many trees we viewed whilst searching for a candidate for our project. Fig trees attract a wealth of wildlife when they are fruiting. Photo by Tom Ambrose.
One of the many trees we viewed whilst searching for a candidate for our project. Fig trees attract a wealth of wildlife when they are fruiting. Photo by Tom Ambrose.

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:

Birds

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.

A Male Royal Flycatcher only displays its magnificent crest when displaying for a mate or when threatened. In this case it was caught in a mist net and photographed in the hand. Photo by Tom Ambrose.
A Male Royal Flycatcher only displays its magnificent crest when displaying for a mate or when threatened. In this case it was caught in a mist net and photographed in the hand. Photo by Tom Ambrose.

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.

Mammals

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.

Night Monkeys are the only nocturnal primate in the area. We hope to photograph many of the less well known animals around our tree to highlight the incredible biodiversity that can be found here. Photo by Tom Ambrose.
Night Monkeys are the only nocturnal primate in the area. We hope to photograph many of the less well known animals around our tree to highlight the incredible biodiversity that can be found here. Photo by Tom Ambrose.

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

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.

A Meneria Metalmark, just one of the beautiful butterfly species in Tambopata. Photo by Tom Ambrose.
A Meneria Metalmark, just one of the beautiful butterfly species in Tambopata. Photo by Tom Ambrose.

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.

An Amazon Tree Boa, the most common boa species in the area. Their huge eyes reflect a lot of light, so they show up well at night when spotlighted. Photo by Tom Ambrose.
An Amazon Tree Boa, the most common boa species in the area. Their huge eyes reflect a lot of light, so they show up well at night when spotlighted. Photo by Tom Ambrose.

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.

We already have an agreement with photography monthly, as well as firm interest from a number of other magazines.
We already have an agreement with photography monthly, as well as firm interest from a number of other magazines.

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

Transportation - £3500
Accommodation and food - £4000
Exhibitions - £3000
Construction (canopy access, hides etc) - £500
School roadshow - £1000


Endorsements

“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!”

Wimberley, Inc.
 

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.

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Rewards

  • You selected
    £10 reward

    10 backers

    Agouti level - donate £10 and we will send you a selection of our images for you to use as screen savers.

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    £15 reward

    3 backers

    Tamarin level - donate £15 or more and we will send you an eThankyou card, a selection of images for you to use as screensavers and we will credit you on our website

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    £25 reward

    7 backers

    Capuchin level - donate £25 or more and we will send you a hand written postcard from Peru, a selection of images for you to use as screensavers and we will credit you on out website

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    £50 reward

    1 backer

    Ocelot level - donate £50 or more and we will send you a postcard from Peru, a 4"x 6" print chosen by you from our portfolio, and we will credit you on our website

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    £100 reward

    3 backers

    Capybara level - donate £100 or more and we will send you a signed limited edition 8"x 12" print, a hand written postcard from Peru and we will credit you on our website

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    £250 reward

    0 backers

    Armadillo level - donate £250 or more and we will send you a signed limited edition 12"x 16" print, a 4"x 6" photo, a hand written postcard from Peru and credit at gallery exhibits.

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    £500 reward

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    Anteater level - donate £500 or more and we will send you a personalized video blog, a signed limited edition 16"x 20" print, a hand written postcard from Peru and credit at gallery exhibits

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    £1,000 reward

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    Tapir level - donate £1000 or more and we will send you a special gift from South America, a signed limited edition 16"x 20" print, a hand written postcard and credit at gallery exhibits

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    £2,995 reward

    0 backers Limited (6 left of 6)

    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:
    http://www.onetreeinabillion.com/join-us/

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Funding period

- (30 days)