In the Eye of the Be­holder

Canadian Wildlife - - FROM CWF - Rick J. Bates CEO, Cana­dian Wildlife Fed­er­a­tion

Wel­come to our photography is­sue! What bet­ter way to mark a new year than with a cel­e­bra­tion, in this case hon­our­ing both our read­ers’ cre­ativ­ity and the beauty of our wilder­ness here in Canada. The photo con­test is a favourite tra­di­tion of ours at the Cana­dian Wildlife Fed­er­a­tion, and this year’s crop did not dis­ap­point. With a record num­ber of en­tries (nearly 4,000!) and some of the best shots we have re­ceived over the two decades we have been do­ing it, I am con­fi­dent when I say it is our best ever. (At least un­til next year!) My con­grat­u­la­tions to all en­trants for the ex­cel­lent pho­tos and a spe­cial hur­ray as well to all the win­ners and those who re­ceived hon­ourable men­tions. My thanks must go also to the CWF staff who work so hard each year to or­ga­nize this com­plex un­der­tak­ing and who make it so much fun to be in­volved.

Na­ture photography has taken off in the last decade, for sev­eral rea­sons, not least be­cause of the ubiq­uity of dig­i­tal cam­eras, pur­pose-built or in phones. Like never be­fore, cam­eras are ev­ery­where. Equally im­por­tant, I think, to the ex­plo­sion in na­ture photography is that peo­ple are com­ing to value na­ture more these days. En­vi­ron­men­tal aware­ness is on the rise, as is the knowl­edge that we have to act now. Look at the num­bers: Parks Canada an­nounced a 7 per cent one-year jump in at­ten­dance in the sum­mer of 2017, boosted per­haps by free passes as part of the Canada 150 cel­e­bra­tions, but also part of a longer term up­ward trend in vis­i­tor num­bers. Fur­ther, a 2015 Statis­tics Canada re­port says 72 per cent of Cana­di­ans par­tic­i­pate in out­door ac­tiv­i­ties. There’s no won­der there are so many great wilder­ness pho­tos these days.

Of course, with that kind of pop­u­lar­ity comes a greater need for aware­ness of our re­spon­si­bil­i­ties when we are out en­joy­ing na­ture. That’s why I am par­tic­u­larly proud to see an ar­ti­cle in this spe­cial photo is­sue on how to be an eth­i­cal na­ture pho­tog­ra­pher. Af­ter all, it is in­cum­bent upon all of us to show re­spect to na­ture in all its man­i­fes­ta­tions. That can mean a lot of dif­fer­ent things: from leav­ing noth­ing be­hind but foot­prints, to giv­ing wild an­i­mals the space they need and, of course, to avoid lur­ing, bait­ing or oth­er­wise ma­nip­u­lat­ing wildlife for the sake of a photo. Nat­u­rally, these are guide­lines for all of us in na­ture, not just the shut­ter­bugs among us.

Since our found­ing in 1961, we at Cana­dian Wildlife Fed­er­a­tion have worked to con­serve Canada’s nat­u­ral her­itage. And again in this new year we will de­liver pro­grams (in­clud­ing a photo con­test) that en­cour­age peo­ple across Canada to ex­pe­ri­ence the great out­doors, to dis­cover the won­ders of na­ture and to learn about the tremen­dous en­vi­ron­men­tal chal­lenges we must con­front as in­di­vid­u­als and as a com­mu­nity. In 2018, we will count on your on­go­ing sup­port as we ed­u­cate and in­spire the pub­lic, chal­lenge gov­ern­ment and in­dus­try to do bet­ter, and con­tinue to con­duct and spon­sor sci­en­tific re­search that helps us im­ple­ment bet­ter con­ser­va­tion pro­grams.

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