Staffan, you are the managing director of this fabulous project. How did you get the idea to make such a project?
It was during the World Wilderness Congress in Alaska, when the ILCP was created, I was inspired by the teamwork idea from the ILCP, and I realized that this was a magic combination. A big job that needed to be done, a story that needed to be told, and a method that could be used. So I and Niall Benvie, who was also there, started to plan for a 50-photographer project with a massive media output. We joined forces with dear colleagues Florian Möllers and Peter Cairns, also ILCP members. And here we are!
What will be your role, your tasks in this project?
I will be trying to lead the work and the people involved who take care of all the different parts of the project, so that we prioritize right and deliver everything that we are promising. But everyone involved is very self-propelled and they pretty much already know how and what to do, all are great professionals, so it is not too difficult. I am also very involved in finding the funds for it all, from organisations, foundations, authorities and companies. We are still needing to finance some parts of the project and all suggestions of good partners are welcome. When it comes to photography, I will be doing sea eagles and golden eagles in Norway, Wolves and bears in Finland and vultures in Spain.
A big project like WWOE needs a lot of support (technical, financial). How did you manage to “attract” partners? What are the main risks?
We have had relatively easy to attract partners. It is a top-quality project with wide media support, and many want to be involved. We will reach a lot of people and that is attractive too. The main reason why nobody has done such a project is of course beacuse it is so expensive. We have a 3 million Euro cost budget. No magazine or NGO could carry that cost.
No national government would like to pay it. But by joining forces and many different partners it is easier, and also more people become involved. We have a list of volunteers to – please join in!…
The main risk when you start is of course to not find money enough.
Beyond this project, there is an global ecological question : photographers will travel a lot, in more than 40 countries… Can it match with the ecologic impact? Isn’t it a big risk for the health of the biodiversity?
Yes, that is a concern of course. But we dont believe that people need to completely stop travelling. On the contrary, to be able to save biodiversity on the ground in many, many places, there need to be far more nature tourists coming there to enjoy it and to pay a fair price for that experience. That is a fantastic way for undestroyed nature to get an economic value it didnt have before. For that to happen, people need to travel. But we dont have to fly everywhere, or drive the biggest 4-wheeldrive cars. One can see what we are doing as a way for us to show the Europeans that there are plenty of fantastic places close to home, that are a good idea to check out. Maybe you dont have to travel to Alaska to see bears – you can go to Finland and Sweden. You dont have to go to Africa for vultures and beeaters, you can go to southern France and Spain. Stopping all travel is not on anyones real agenda. I guess we should try to stop unnecessary travel and wasteful travel, that is a good start. Travelling to show the Wild Wonders of Europe to the Europeans and the world is probably a reasonably OK cause for which to travel a bit. But it is a difficult question.
A question we are going to ask every photographers… What is, personally, YOUR Wild Wonder? And why?
There are so many. I love Swedish Lapland and I also love the Norwegian coast and the Finnish forests. Why? Because there I feel very strongly that these areas are my roots, my natural heritage, a part of me. After that I also love the Caucasus mountains, highest in Europe, I love Southern Spain, and the Pyrenees, and Transsylvania, and…
A last sentence you would like to add?
Follow us regularly on the web, there will be new material a couple of times per week, spread the word around, link to us, tell your friends, and take part in the interactive parts that are soon to be launched: Competitions, voting, comments etc. Check our blogs and connect us with other bloggers.
It is about YOUR Natural Heritage and its future!
Interview by Sébastien Beghelli, Naturapics.com
Please note that blogs reflect our photographers' opinions and not necessarily those of the directors of Wild Wonders of Europe.