A stunning image showing the immensity of wildfires in the Canadian Rockies has picked up the top prize at the ninth annual CIWEM Atkins Environmental Photographer of the Year. Presented by renowned explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes at the RGS-IBG last night, the six winners headed up a larger exhibition of 60 shortlisted entries that are now open to public viewing.
The works will be on display at the RGS-IBG in London from 29 June to 21 August, before then going on to Grizedale Forest from 3 September to 1 January 2017.
Of her winning entry, Swedish-born Sara Lindström said: ‘It was an exceptionally warm day in July in southern Alberta when I came across this massive pinkish smoke plume rising high towards the sky. The big flames were thriving on the dry land and had me completely mesmerised in fear and awe.’
Geographical contributor Luke Massey picked up the award for Young Environmental Photographer of the Year for his study of a Chicago-based peregrine falcon, entitled Poser. ‘Peregrines were extirpated in Illinois in the 1960s but in the 1980s a reintroduction programme began and now 22 pairs nest in Chicago alone,’ he says. ‘One pair has chosen a Chicagoan’s condo balcony as their nest site and in 2015 I followed them as they raised four chicks to fledging.’
You may remember Luke’s study of the peregrines from this story we ran last September.
Sergiu Jiduc picked up the prize for Environmental Film of the Year for his work on documenting surging glaciers in Pakistan’s Karkoram region. The Karkoram Project highlights the devastation being wrought by Glacial Lake Outburst Floods, a climatic anomaly that causes ‘tsunami-sized waves’ to hit local villages, destroying lives in a remote area.
Jiduc states that the film ‘could help gauge the future availability of water for hundreds of millions of people as well as to provide insights on how glaciers will change in the future. But most importantly, mapping and quantifying the risk of GLOFs in the area could save thousands of lives.’
The Atkins Built Environment award went to Indian photojournalist Kumar Shanth for the startling shot of how damage to the coastline of Chennai is impacting on the people who live there. ‘Shanth Kumar’s photograph acts as a powerful reminder of the potential risks at stake when human actions disrupt natural processes, particularly in areas of rapid and unplanned urban expansion,’ said Janet Miller, Cities and Development Director of Atkins. ‘Kumar’s image highlights the challenges facing many areas of our world at the moment, the urgency to overcome them and the need for informed decision making if we are to successfully future proof our cities.’
Sandra Hoyn captured the minds of the judges with her striking shot of discarded life jackets on the shoreline of Lesbos, starkly illustrating the transient effects of the ongoing refugee crisis and winning the CIWEM Changing Climate award. Hoyn is a German photojournalist who concentrates on social, environmental and human rights issues, and CIWEM Chief Executive Terry Fuller described her entry as ‘a warning that the very direct manifestation of climate change is the increased pressure on the supply of drinking water to all parts of the world. This picture reinforces the need for us to act now and think globally.’
Pedram Yazdani won the Forestry Commission England People, Nature and Economy award for Sand, his image of a landlocked ferry trapped on the Salt Lake Urmia in Iran following the reduction of water in the region. ‘Urmia could be a symbol of what will happen soon to Iran – it is going to be dried out,’ said Yazdani. ‘The biggest salt lake in the Middle East, it now contains only ten per cent of the original amount of water, as a result both of climate change, and of dam and well construction.’