What YOU Can Do:
Read “Wild Hope: On the Front Lines of Conservation Success” by Andrew Balmford and get inspired to find your starfish! What can you do in your backyard to make a difference? Start composting, use native plants in your garden, or help clean-up your local beach or nature reserve.
–1Frame4Nature is a collection of images and stories from around the globe of your personal connection to nature. However small, when combined with the actions of others, your individual actions can impact real and tangible outcomes for the preservation of our planet. Submit your story now!
iLCP Emerging League Photographer Gabby Salazar‘s 1Frame4Nature: Why I am a (Conservation) Optimist
After working as a photographer for over five years, I recently returned to school to study Conservation Science as a postgraduate student. It has been a challenge to exchange my camera for books and my mornings in the field for mornings in a lecture hall. But, mostly, it has been difficult to learn about the many challenges facing the natural world– from the mass extinction of frogs to the growing illegal wildlife trade. Thankfully, my professors have also focused on exposing me to solutions and to innovative new approaches to conservation. So, as I finish my degree this summer, I remain optimistic about the future– a future where I believe that both humans and nature can and will thrive.
As a conservation photographer, I have had the privilege of witnessing hope firsthand. I have walked beside a 91-year-old Mauritian botanist who bikes to a local nature reserve every morning to help restore the native forest. I have listened as the owner of a rescue center gets up in the middle of the night to care for a sick howler monkey in Peru. Last summer, I watched an Alaskan brown bear fishing in the wilderness, in the company of a hunter turned ecotourism operator. Like so many people around the world, he realized that wildlife can be more valuable alive than dead. It is individuals like these that give me hope. They are the ones turning the tide in their communities, in their local parks, and even in their backyards.
In 2015, I spent six months on the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius, home to one of the greatest examples of conservation success in the world. For the last forty years, conservationists in Mauritius have been using captive breeding techniques and habitat restoration to rescue many critically endangered species, from the Echo Parakeet to the Telfair’s skink to the Café Marron tree. Remarkably, Mauritius has saved six critically endangered bird species from extinction, including the Mauritius kestrel, which was once down to four individuals in the wild (and only one breeding pair!). The story of Mauritius is proof that dedicated individuals, working locally, can make an impact.
I am not the only conservation optimist. Earth Optimism is a growing international movement to celebrate success rather than to focus on failure. In April of this year, Optimism events will be taking place around the world, from London to Washington DC to Panama City (find your event here). Together, we’ll be crafting a new narrative for conservation–one that is based on hope and that shifts our focus from problems to solutions.
When I think about this new movement, an old fable comes to mind. A woman is walking down a beach that is covered in thousands of stranded starfish. In the distance, she notices a man who is tossing the starfish back out to sea, one by one. After watching him from afar, she approaches him and asks what he is doing and how could he possibly make a difference when thousands of starfish will inevitably die. He leans down, tosses an additional starfish into the sea, and says, “It made a difference to that one.”
This article is brought to you by the 1Frame4Nature Campaign. Share a picture and story on Instagram with the hashtag #1Frame4Nature, of your personal connection to nature and tell us what action you’ve taken on behalf of our planet.