Positive Visions for Biodiversity: Photography’s Role

Photo of consumed caterpillar by an Ichneumonidae-Campopleginae and a built cocoon by Edwin Brosens
Copyright © Edwin Brosens All rights reserved.

Consumed caterpillar by an Ichneumonidae-Campopleginae and a built cocoon.

Sony Apha 700 + 180/3.5 APO Macro + Flash, F/14 @ 0.8sec.

Over 230 participants came from 43 countries to participate in this summit organized by the Belgian Biodiversity Platform (an initiative of the Belgian Science Policy office), one of the national platforms of the European Platform for Biodiversity Research Strategy (EPBRS). With group discussions on a variety of topics, you may be asking, what role does photography play within Biodiversity?

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Positive Visions for Biodiversity

Photo of Positive Visions for Biodiversity logo

Many people are a bit confused about the meaning of biodiversity–what is biodiversity? In short it is, “The totality of all living organisms on our blue planet Earth, from elephants to the smallest micro organism.”

Please do take some time to visit:
A video that explains the
general aspects of biodiversity.

November 16-17, 2010: Participants gathered to create a Positive Vision, “vision framework”, of the world that we want and need for the future of humanity and nature. They came to share ideas on how to build a sustainable society. It was divided into themes and goals. For instance, they decided that by 2050, a sustainable relationship with biodiversity will be established through governance that is more transparent and effective, balancing global and local responsibilities. For this theme, they prioritized diverse actions that shall be implemented, which included, “Sustainability is the core business of governments/ governance, e.g., world trade and finance has been dramatically changed”.

Creativity was at the heart of the process. Some ideas were very innovative and participants, especially scientists, were sometimes surprised and delighted by the new perspectives with which they were confronted. For instance, a “sustainable and participatory management of land, seascapes and urban areas” could be achieved only with the help of scientists who could measure and help implement goals such as: “90% of the human population lives in Green Cities (self-sustainable in transport, architecture, infrastructure, water, and waste).”

Participants of the Belgian Biodiversity Platform summit by Edwin Brosens

Participants of the Belgian Biodiversity Platform summit by Edwin Brosens

Photos © 2010 Vivian Hertz

November 18-19, 2010:
The Role of Research

The objective of these 2 days was to discuss how biodiversity research in Europe could address the needs and visions identified in the first phase of November 16-17. Over 50 participants from various science and policy fields addressed the 10 main vision themes that had been identified during the first part of the meeting.

Here are the preliminary reports of these two meetings.

Please do take a bit more time to view the video of the meeting. Our world relies on us!

Global influential thinkers came together to share their Positive Visions for the future of humanity and nature.

The Role of Photography in Biodiversity

Photo of Doode Bemde Nature Preserve by Edwin Brosens
Copyright © Edwin Brosens All rights reserved.

Doode Bemde Nature Reserve

Sony Apha 700 + 20/1.8, F/20 @ 1 sec.

Photography is a key component in communicating with people throughout the world. Through photographs, photographers can help acquire the much needed global attention and interest in biodiversity. It is important for nature photographers to shoot environmental photos. We must show people the pressures placed on nature! We should strive towards relaying the message–we live together with nature but a short time! Everyone who comes to understand biodiversity will understand the great need for capturing many new photos around this topic.

Photo Examples

Caterpillars of the Cinnabar Butterfly are consuming a plant, while a few meters behind there are girls riding their bikes home from school. They look at me, but they don’t know why I’m sitting there taking photos of a plant along the road. And behind them a large truck speeds past, leaving in its wake diesel fumes wafting in the air.

Photo of Cinnabar Butterfly caterpillars by Edwin Brosens

Copyright © Edwin Brosens All rights reserved.

Yes, it is a moment cached in 1/60 second shutter speed, but the real shutter speed is 1.5 hours + 1/60 sec. People always look at the aperture and shutter speed of a photo, but forget to consider the time it takes to obtain that perfect compositional moment. Patience is the key!

Sony Apha 700 + 20/1.8 + Tripod & Flash, F/14 @ 1/60 sec.

In June of 2009 I paid an evening visit to the De Moeren nature reserve. During the time I spent photographing, a farmer came back from his field with a large car. I framed this caterpillar while it was hiding under a leaf to protect itself from birds, but at that moment its only enemy was gasses emitted from the car. These kinds of photos are very important to draw people’s attention to how short of time we live with nature. Every individual living species is important for the ecosystem and every loss of a species influences the health of humans and all other living organism.

Conservation photographers also document the damage people have done and are doing to our planet Earth, but it is my goal to document the positive aspects and show the beauty of nature. It is my hope to touch the hearts of many through my nature photos. It is my hope that others will find that link to nature within them and then take action to support it for the future of our planet.

Photo of Caterpillar of Yellowtale by Edwin Brosens
Copyright © Edwin Brosens All rights reserved.

Caterpillar of Yellowtale – farmer with car back from field

Sony Apha 700 + 20/1.8 + Flash, F/4.5 @ 1/20 sec.


Research into any topic of biodiversity is important to obtain a better understanding of the complex combination of elements that live on our planet. And as more and more discoveries are made, it is equally important to educate the public so they have an improved understanding of biodiversity.

Professor Kees van Achterberg has dedicated more than thirty years at NATURALIS www.naturalis.nl . He specializes in parasitic wasps–mainly the Braconidae. Parasitic wasps have an important place into our ecosystem. They feed mainly on caterpillars, along with other insects such as spiders and grasshoppers. If it were not for the parasitic wasps keeping the population of caterpillar larva in balance, the caterpillars would eat large amounts of vegetation before it could flower, pollinate and seed for the next year. You could refer to them as agricultural pest controllers!

Photo of Professor Kees Van Achterberg by Edwin Brosens
Copyright © Edwin Brosens All rights reserved.

Professor Kees Van Achterberg from Naturalis is examining a parasitic wasp from Russia.

Sony Apha 700 + 20/1.8 + Flash, F/10 @ 1/40 sec.

Photo of Student Chundan Hong from China at microscope by Edwin Brosens
Copyright © Edwin Brosens All rights reserved.

Student Chundan Hong from China is preparing a parasitic wasp so microscopic photos can be taken for cataloging.

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Worldwide there are more than 330.00 species of parasitic wasps, so by knowing their role in the ecosystem, we understand how the balance within nature’s system would be greatly disrupted should just this one element disappear from our environment.

From the information obtained about the parasitic wasp, you begin to see the important role that scientific research plays within this complex system in which we live. We humans have the opportunity to learn a lot from the behavior of every living organism in nature.

Photo of Zele Albiditarsus Curtis by Edwin Brosens
Copyright © Edwin Brosens All rights reserved.

Zele Albiditarsus Curtis

Sony Apha 700 + 180/3.5 APO Macro + Flash, F/14 @ 1/5 sec.

Photo of consumed caterpillar by an Ichneumonidae-Campopleginae and a built cocoon by Edwin Brosens
Copyright © Edwin Brosens All rights reserved.

Consumed caterpillar by an Ichneumonidae-Campopleginae and built cocoon.

Sony Apha 700 + 20/1.8 + Flash, F/14 @ 0.5 sec.

There is an enormous amount of research and education yet to take place within the various fields of Biodiversity. And we need all of the communication tools at our disposal to reach the masses—to provide them with a greater understanding of the topic. We need to find a means of making an impact on consumers–less luxury products gives way to a better earth. We need to find a way to show people how to “stop and smell the roses” and to teach appreciation for all of nature, so they will want to save our planet for future generations!

Photographers—you can help. Go out and shoot on a subject that is in your heart and make it your own goal to capture photos which are needed by Biodiversity, so they can communicate to the public.

Everyone can play a role in Biodiversity. Find your way to help…

by Edwin Brosens

All written content (and most images) in these articles are copyrighted by the authors. Copyrighted material from Apogee Photo Mag should not be used elsewhere without seeking the authors permission.

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