“Reflecting on my two weeks exploring the rainforest with YACHAK and One Tree Planted last year, I was deeply connected to two realities,” the photographer Chris Poplawski explained. “First, the jungle is beautiful, thriving when left alone, and host to a remarkable number of creatures. Second, and unfortunately—the threat of deforestation is real.”
As part of a reforestation photography competition called The Amazon Assignment, the drink brand YACHAK Yerba Mate sent Poplawski to the Brazilian Amazon, where he covered the work of the non-profit One Tree Planted. Now, his photographs from that extraordinary adventure are available exclusively through Shutterstock’s Reforestation Collection. 100% of the proceeds from the licensing of the images will go directly to support reforestation in the Amazon.
While in the Amazon, the photographer had the opportunity to visit Cristalino Lodge, a remote sanctuary for birdwatchers. “Reached by a long off roading journey after landing in a small corner of Brazil known as Alta Floresta (you should see how small the baggage claim is), then a boat ride up river through dense and lush forest, this ecotourism destination is unique to say the least,” he shared. “It’s paradise.”
Along the way, as Poplawski traveled, he also witnessed signs of loss: in conversation with Shutterstock, he recalled standing in smokey fields, where trees once grew. One evening, at sunset, he saw ash fall from as the landscape burned. “When people say the rainforest is on fire, it’s more than a headline or a caption,” he continued. “Until you witness it yourself, grasping the magnitude of this tragedy is challenging. I hope that when people see these images, they are inspired to educate themselves further about our environment.”
One Tree Planted works with SOS Amazonia, an organization working to protect the Amazon’s biodiversity and promote environmental awareness. “The proceeds from the Reforestation Collection will bolster their efforts to restore deforested areas, while finding a balance between wild forest and agriculture,” Louis Lagoutte from One Tree Planted, added.
In one of the images from Poplawski’s reforestation photography assignment—now part of The Reforestation Collection—you’ll find a lone Castanheira tree, set against an orange sky. “The reason I share the Castanheira tree so much is it’s truly the symbol of what’s going on here,” he shared on Instagram. “It produces Brazilian nuts, but only when neighboring other trees.
“They stood tall, alone, and no longer producing in most farmers’ fields. A sign of what once existed. The aftermath of deforestation has never been so clear to me. And the need for reforestation has never been so evident.” The Reforestation Collection, the culmination of a collaboration between YACHAK, One Tree Planted, and Shutterstock, is available now.