Stark images of extreme weather, wildlife in decline and pollution were accompanied by images of hope and nature recovery in the Campaign for National Parks' (CNP) Photography Competition 2021.
Following the release of CNP's National Parks and the Climate Emergency report in June and in the run-up to COP26, this year's competition focused on documenting climate change in National Parks, attracting entries from National Parks across England and Wales, showing both the impact of climate change and the work underway to address this.
Exmoor-based photographer Shaun Davey won over the judges with his stunning image of sunset on Porlock Marsh in Exmoor National Park to be crowned the overall winner.
"The marsh is only 25 years old; it was previously agricultural land," said Davey. "The marsh is now a haven for wildlife and a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and an outstanding location for photographers, walkers and birdwatchers. The image shows a sunset across the flooded marsh at high tide - the breach is clearly visible beyond the more distant tree."
The judging panel, made up of CNP chief executive Rose O'Neill, Digital Photographer Magazine editor Lauren Scott, National Geographic Traveller UK picture editor Olly Puglisi and National Parks photographer and previous winner Kieran Metcalfe, praised both the technical brilliance of the photo and the powerful story it was sharing, one which perfectly illustrates the role that nature recovery has to play in the climate crisis.
The Young Photographer of the Year award went to Fletcher Foot, aged 14, for his image of a stonechat on dried gorse in New Forest National Park. Colder temperatures are impacting stonechat numbers.
Fletcher said: "Stonechat breeding numbers are down in the New Forest, one of the impacts of climate change. You can see the dried gorse which it is perched on - a further impact of climate change. Hotter temperatures are affecting the number and range of species and it alters their seasonal activity. It is only going to get worse if we don't act straight away."
In second place was Tony Watson's wide-angle picture of water shortages at Haweswater in Lake District National Park, which he shared on Twitter with a powerful call to action to act now.
In third place was Cara Organ's beautiful photo of unusually heavy snow at Carlton Bank in the Cleveland Hills in North York Moors National Park
Editor of Digital Photographer Magazine, which partnered with CNP for this year's competition, Lauren Scott added: "This year's entries were both uplifting and powerful, celebrating the beauty of National Parks in England and Wales, but also showing us the impacts of climate change firsthand. I loved the variety in imagery, and how each photographer had so carefully considered the story they wanted to tell."
CNP chief executive Rose O'Neill said: "National Parks are critical to tackling the climate emergency. These photos illustrate what's at stake if we don't act, as well as giving hope in using nature as part of the solution. This is why Campaign for National Parks is calling on the government to amend legislation to ensure National Parks have the powers and the resources to play this critical role."
Read more here: https://www.cnp.org.uk/