Sunday, 11 December 2011

Snapshots of Brazil at Somerset House

The statistics make for depressing reading. Every minute an area of Amazon rainforest the size of three football pitches disappears. For every 40 metres of road created, 600 square kilometres of forest is lost. Whilst several of the photographs at Somerset House's "Amazon" exhibition brilliantly portray this damning situation, the exhibition itself leaves you with a sense of hope rather than desperation.

This is largely down to the efforts of the local communities of Acre, a state in north-west Brazil, whose lives are beautifully depicted by photographer Per-Anders Pettersson. Their optimism, work ethic and strong sense of community are admirable. And this is set against the most incredible landscapes.

In another room are photos of indigenous tribes, the Alto Xingu and the Zo'é, by Sebastião Salgado, which show a way of living that you’d think would be the stuff of fantasy; men jumping between trees as they hunt for monkeys.
How could anyone want to destroy all this? Yet, for money, many do. The aim of this exhibition is to support Sky Rainforest Rescue, a three-year project by Sky and WWF to help save one billion trees in Acre.
Sky and WWF want to raise £2m, which Sky will meet pound for pound to take the total to £4m, to help make the trees worth more alive than dead by:

1. providing support for local people to preserve their forest and use the land sustainably
2. helping to identify new market opportunities for sustainable forest products, including rubber production (Veja shoes support this)
3. supporting the Acre state government to monitor deforestation
4. engaging with governments and international bodies to address the causes of deforestation

To help this important cause, visit The Somerset House exhibition runs until December 18. Go and see it; it's beautiful.

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