A single tree

"We’re all in this together – I don’t believe there’s a left or right, or here or there… The human species is the only animal that we know that destroys – with conscience – their environment and we need to change that." - Daniel Beltra

Check out this series of images, by Greenpeace commissioned photographer Daniel Beltrá, which has just been given top recognition at the Pictures of the Year International for 2008. Beltrá, a freelance photojournalist who has been covering assignments for Greenpeace since 1990, received the Award of Excellence in the category for issue reporting with his series titled ‘New Landscape of the Amazon’.

The stunning photo essay documents how the once vibrant and diverse Amazon Rainforest ecosystem is being developed into a monoculture of farmed commodity crops. The increase in exports of soya to China, cotton and paper fibres throughout the Americas and beef to Europe is dramatically changing the Amazon landscape.

He says his work highlights the link between forest destruction and global warming.

“There’s still a lot to do to expose the terrible loss of biodiversity that the Amazon is suffering. We’ve lost 17% of the surface of the Amazon already. Scientists predict that if we lose 40 or 50% of that surface, the rainforest will not be able to regenerate itself. It’s a process that we really need to stop, and this is an obligation on all of us - of Brazilians, the Brazilian government, and of the international community.”

Beltrá has won numerous photographic awards in a career which started in Madrid in 1989. He has documented several expeditions by Greenpeace to the Brazilian Amazon, the Arctic, the Southern Oceans and the Patagonian Ice Fields, among many others.

In 2006 he received awards from the World Press Photo (WPP) and China International Press Photo contests for his work on drought in the Amazon. In 2007, he won again in the WPP for photos of the Amazon.

Now based in the USA he focuses on nature and conservation issues and is a familiar name at the highest end of the industry bringing Greenpeace on a par with the big players like National Geographic, New York Times, Getty and Newsweek.