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What happens when you see something so devastating it leaves a indelible black mark on your soul?
Do you stay quiet or do you clear your throat and raise your voice? I am not an environmentalist nor am I politically minded, I’m only a photographer who feels I have no choice but to raise my voice.
Devastation is a series of aerial images that explore the devastation of a landscape laid to waste by the impacts of man. What once was a thriving freshwater ecosystem of Melaleuca swampland is now a barren expanse of dead trees and hyper saline water – simply a graveyard of bleached and stricken tree trunks.
A cocktail of rising sea levels, changes to cyclonic and monsoon patterns and the impact of feral buffalo has resulted in pushing saltwater further from the coast into its freshwater river systems. The phenomenon was first documented in the 1950’s but has escalated rapidly since the 1980’s. What was initially thought to be the impact of the hard-hooved feral water buffalo on a fragile ecosystem now appears to be more closely linked to climate change as changes to cyclonic and monsoon patterns have been more pronounced since the 1980’s.
The project was captured in the Northern Territory near the chain of freshwater billabongs known as the Mary River, not too far from the western edge of Kakadu National Park.
If emissions continue to rise, modelling by the CSIRO from 2017 shows that almost half of Kakadu’s freshwater wetlands could meet the same fate and be inundated within 50 years. Kakadu is Australia’s largest, one of the most ecologically important and spiritually important regions in Australia. Home to over one third of the species of Australia’s birds. Saltwater inundation could have drastic repercussions for biodiversity not only in Kakadu, but across northern Australia.
I hope that my project of the dead forest can offer but a glimpse into the future similar low-lying coastal areas along the Top End coast, which are most vulnerable to rising sea levels.
Do we want Kakadu to suffer a similar fate?