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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Picturing Culture

iLCP Executive Director Cristina Mittermeier is at the forefront of the modern conservation movement

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Image was taken in Madagascar.
“They maintain a traditional lifestyle independent of outside influences,” Mittermeier explains. “It’s truly amazing that the only reason this large region is not being logged or burned is because these Indians are conserving it.”

Balancing her own work with her role at the iLCP is made easier by the fact that the goals are essentially the same. Last year, Mittermeier was able to step back from managing the day-to-day operations, allowing her to focus on her own work while laying out an overall vision of how the iLCP will expand and define its role in the conservation community. This year, the group is separating from the WILD Foundation and getting its own status as a corporation. It’s also expanding in terms of productivity, fundraising and promotion with new initiatives like Earth In Focus. Designed to be the iLCP’s nonprofit publishing arm, this new endeavor will include a variety of projects like workshops, lectures, exhibitions and books authored by some of the world’s leading experts on climate change, ecology and biodiversity.

Mittermeier has served as a longtime editor of a book series published by Conservation International and Cemex, the Mexican construction company. The books showcase in photos and essays the importance of biodiversity, as well as the threats. Highlighting critical aspects of conservation in recent years, the books are written in partnership with leading NGOs and are donated to universities, government agencies, research institutions and nonprofit organizations for fundraising.

Mittermeier has traveled the world, but most of her work focuses on the Amazon. This image was taken in Madagascar.
The Wealth of Nature is the 17th volume in the series, and it’s illustrated with images from iLCP photographers in partnership with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Conservation International. The book contains hundreds of stunning full-color photographs taken by a host of world-renowned nature photographers, including noted wildlife photographer and OP columnist Frans Lanting, award-winning photographer and writer Jenny E. Ross and endangered species photographer Joel Sartore. The book makes sense of what’s being threatened by climate change, while celebrating nature and demonstrating how it contributes to our health, economic prosperity and cultural values.

In December, Mittermeier joined the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen to talk about the book and to discuss the role women can play. She’s partnering with other women journalists in an effort called “Hot Pink: Solutions to Climate Change.” The goal is to find ways of empowering women in the developing world to adopt more sustainable ways of living—for example, finding an alternative to wood burning and collecting for cooking so that trees, which reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change, are left standing.

“Fifty percent of the population isn’t empowered to be part of the solution,” she says. “Women are so marginalized around the world and could be a huge part of making progress on this issue.”


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