Tuesday, September 14, 2010

World’s Leading Nature Photographers Urge Canada to Reconsider Major Oil Threat

Photo © Florian Schulz, iLCP

This month, the iLCP, a group of internationally renowned photographers are taking part in a RAVE (Rapid Assessment Visual Expedition) in British Columbia's Great Bear Rainforest. Home to white spirit bears, ancient forests, and stunning marine biodiversity, it is one of the planet's most priceless treasures, but overseas oil interests wanting access to western Canada's tar sands, the second largest known oil reserves in the world, have put the region in threat, prompting the action of conservation groups and the iLCP. Throughout the expedition we'll be bringing you profiles, stories, statistics and photos to learn more about the region and why it's so crucial that we all work to protect it. Please follow along here on the iLCP blog, on Facebook and Twitter.


Canada’s proposed Northern Gateway oil pipeline, a project by Enbridge, Inc., from the Alberta tar sands to Kitimat, and the ensuing supertanker traffic would have a catastrophic effect on Canada’s Great Bear Rainforest, said a group of the world’s leading conservation photographers today.

After two weeks, iLCP's team of photographers have emerged from the Great Bear Rainforest of British Columbia's north coast armed with compelling and provocative photographs and film. Throughout the next several months, their images will travel around the world to tell the story of this this incredible and threatened place — and the people and wildlife that live there.

© Thomas Peschak, Save Our Seas Foundation

Enbridge Inc., the world's largest pipeline construction company (and the same one responsible for Michigan's oil spill) has proposed to open export markets for tar sands oil outside the United States — most notably China. And to get it there, they plan to build a 1,200 km pipeline from Alberta's tar sands to British Columbia's north Pacific coast over more than 1,000 streams and rivers — including some of the world's largest salmon producing watersheds — and introduce super oil tankers (revoking an existing moratorium on large ships) to transport oil through the pristine waters of the Great Bear Rainforest.

“The International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP) receives dozens of requests a year to bring our photographers and filmmakers to endangered landscapes all over the world, but British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest stands head and shoulders above the others,” said iLCP founder and president Cristina Mittermeier. “The ecosystems here are so interconnected that an oil spill would devastate not only the landscapes and seascapes but the communities that rely on them for their survival.”

Internationally renowned photographers from Spain, Germany, South Africa, Mexico, the United States and Canada have just returned from documenting the Great Bear Rainforest. Known as a Rapid Assessment Visual Expedition (RAVE), the program is designed to bolster conservation efforts with world-class imagery in order to protect the planet’s most unique ecosystems. Photographers including Paul Nicklen, Florian Schultz, Daniel Beltra, Jack Dykinga, Tom Peschak, Joe Riis and Cristina Mittermeier took part in the iLCP's RAVE.

© Ian McAllister, Pacific Wild and iLCP

Under the water, on land and in the air, this team of photographers brought home some of the most incredible images to date from this region. Marine photographers and filmmakers went underwater to film whales, sea lions and other wildlife that stand to be lost from an oil spill. On land, photographers trekked through the rainforest to capture the iconic spirit bears, black bears, salmon, wolves and incredible landscapes on film.

© Joe Riis, iLCP

“Enbridge’s bid to bring oil to BC’s north coast just got a whole lot more complicated,” said Ian McAllister, Executive Director of the BC non-profit Pacific Wild. “These are among the greatest nature images we have ever witnessed and they will soften even the most ardent supporter of Enbridge’s efforts to bring oil to our coast.”

Along with support from the conservation community, the BC Coastal First Nations have declared unified opposition to oil tankers in their traditional territories.

"Our laws require us to accept both the right to protect our lands and the responsibility to do so,” said Gerald Amos, President of the Coastal First Nations. “This oil madness has to stop, and this is the place and time for us all to embrace our responsibilities. Now is time to stop the proposed supertankers from soiling our coast and robbing us of our livelihoods."

© Cristina Mittermeier, iLCP

“Every Gitga’at family in Hartley Bay has had at least one member employed at the King Pacific Lodge,” said King Pacific Lodge President Michael Uehara. “The resulting tanker traffic from this proposed project will destroy not only the new initiative of King Pacific Lodge, but also the ancient culture it seeks to honor.” The King Pacific Lodge partnered with iLCP on this RAVE and is the largest private employer of the Gitga'at First Nations community.
Throughout the next several months, we will embark on a traveling exhibition to feature these images in key cities across North America and Europe.

To access images for use in stories regarding the RAVE and the Great Bear Rainforest visit our online gallery.
And please credit the photographers appropriately below each image.

For more information, please contact:

Marshall Maher, iLCP, 202.262.3369 or maher.marshall@gmail.com

Ian McAllister, Pacific Wild, 250.882.7246 or ian@pacificwild.org

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