|Benjamin Drummond / Sara Joy Steele|
News from Benj and Sara
We made one final trip to Africa this year. In August, we returned to Tanzania’s southern highlands for Conservation International and the TEAM Network to build an image library and exhibit in support of the project’s next chapter.
“Most conservation science today isn’t ambitious enough,” says TEAM’s Sandy Andelman. “We are informing battles, but we are not providing the knowledge needed, at the scale needed, to win the war.” To meet this challenge, Conservation International, the Earth Institute and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation envision a monitoring network that combines ecological, agriculture and socioeconomic data from around the world. The approach is similar to TEAM’s biodiversity monitoring work, but the focus is ecosystem services and the scale is huge: 400 sites within two or three years.
To help bring this vision to life, we visited southern Tanzania to produce an image library and exhibit. We accompanied researchers collecting micro-climate data from farmers’ fields, installed camera traps on the steep slopes of Udzungwa National Park, and tried to show the link between intact ecosystems and the foods, fuelwood and clean water that communities depend on.
Though successful, the trip was not without challenges. Many of the “services” on our shot list were either highly restricted or illegal. A huge thanks to Joseph Martin, Emanuel Martin and Miller Sanga who went above and beyond to help us find what we needed. (Most tourists are looking for lions, not people doing laundry or making charcoal.)
Upon our return, we quickly produced a dozen large-format prints for a donor meeting in New York. (More details on the meeting can be found at nature.com.) The exhibit will continue to travel in 2012.