UNEP Portrait of Kenyan Forest Activist among Winners of First International Forest Photograph Contest
Nairobi, 11 April - A portrait of a farmer working to conserve forests in Kenya, part of the UN Environment Programme's 'Faces of the Mau Forest' exhibition, was among five winners of the first International Forest Photograph Contest.
The contest, initiated "to celebrate the power of visual imagery in capturing the extraordinary and unique connection between people and forests", recognized Riccardo Gangale's picture of Grace Boit-a community leader from Kipilat village who works on a voluntary basis to back efforts to conserve the Mau Forest Complex.
Grace supports Kenya Forest Rangers and also keeps tabs on the activities of illegal loggers, allowing the authorities to intervene.
Atakan Baykal of Turkey, Eka Fendiaspara of Indonesia, Olga Lavrushko of Ukraine, Prasetyo Nurramdhan of Indonesia, and Pablo Pro of Spain were the other winners.
"The United Nations Forum on Forests photo contest is like an Olympic flame; this contest keeps the Forests message alive through different individuals, societies and continents," said Juan M. Gabarrón, Director of the Gabarron Foundation in New York and a member of the jury that selected the winners.
The awards were presented as 197 member States met at the tenth session of the United Nations Forum on Forests in Istanbul.
The Mau Forest Complex is one of five water towers that feed filtered rainwater to rivers and lakes across Kenya. It also provides benefits to a variety of other sectors. Yet the complex has come under pressure from deforestation driven by factors such as illegal logging for charcoal.
In 2012, a UNEP report found that deforestation in Kenya's water towers deprived the economy of $US68 million in 2010, far outstripping revenue injected from forestry and logging.
UNEP, with funding from the United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (UN REDD), is supporting the Kenyan government to conserve this valuable resource. More than 21,000 hectares of forest have been repossessed and 10,000 hectares have been rehabilitated in the Mau, while alternative livelihoods are also being promoted.
More information on the winners can be found at un.org/esa/forests
To view the 'Faces of the Mau Forest' gallery, including the winning entry, visit http://unep.org/PhotoGallery/facesofmau/index.html
To view the full UNEP report on Kenya's water towers, visit http://www.unep.org/newscentre/default.aspx?DocumentID=2698&ArticleID=9316
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