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Fleeing Nature 11
Dhaka, Bangladesh
By Anik Rahman
04 Sep 2014

Mohammad Hashmot Ali's house sits tilted and half submerged in the Padma river after the bank on which his house was built gave way. Dohar, Dhaka, Bangladesh.

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Tree Planting in Western Canada
Alberta, Canada
By Luc Forsyth
19 Aug 2014

Tree planters sleep on the ground, work in the rain and snow, battle swarms of insects, and bend over thousands of times a day – all in the pursuit of money. Tree planting is part adventure and part iconic right of passage. The ultimate goal is to earn as much as possible before the season ends. While some “rookie” planters might struggle to earn enough to cover their expenses, a motivated and experienced planter can expect to earn upwards of $300 every day. The very best earn even more still. Many tree planters return to this job year after year in pursuit of a large payout, whether for tuition, travel, or investment.

Carrying all their equipment on their backs, and heavy loads of tree seedings makes tree planting a physically exhausting experience. In a national study, it was determined that a tree planter can burn up to 8000 calories in a single day of work.

Known nationally as one of the hardest jobs a young person can do, this story follows a camp of 42 tree planters over a difficult four month season in northern Alberta.

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Mae toen 03
Mae Toen, Thailand
By Ana Salvá
13 Aug 2014

Mae Toen is close to a fluoride mine that has contaminated the water of the village. Despite the mine's closure 40 years ago, the area has become a polluted artificial lake, where water overflows during the rainy season. "The problem we have is that in Mae Toen, the groundwater is used for eating and cooking, and this is contaminated by with fluoride," says Dr. Chatpat Kongpun, who works at the Ministry of Public Health Thailand.

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Coral Triangle
Coral Triangle
By Mark_Esplin
10 Jun 2014

The Coral Triangle is one of the world’s most important natural resources. It is an area of ocean that covers 5.4 million km2, where more biodiversity can be found than anywhere else on Earth.

The 3,000+ species of fish, and vast coral reefs, provide livelihoods and food for an estimated 130 million people in the region. Millions more throughout the world also benefit from the bounty of natural resources, provided by the Coral Triangle.

But all is not well in paradise. Scientists, environmentalists, economists and governments, are increasingly worried for the future of this ecosystem. In the last forty years alone, the Coral Triangle has incurred substantial losses of 40% to its reefs and mangroves.

Projections suggest this rate of degradation is likely to continue, or increase into the future. With such significant numbers of people reliant on this natural resource, there is a potential catastrophe of global proportions waiting to happen.

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Startup Turns Fishing Nets Into Skate...
Santiago, Chile
By Zachary F. Volkert
23 May 2014

TOPLINE: Ben Kneppers is giving waste wheels with the Bureo Skateboards project – recycling used fishing nets from along the Chilean coast and turning them into skateboards and, in the future, a slew of other products.

When Ben Kneppers arrived to Chile in 2012 two things struck him: the country’s rapid economic development was making it a goldmine for entrepreneurs, and that its 2,000-mile coastline was being marred by pollution.

Discarded fishing nets drifting in the ocean ensnare animals all of over the world – which is no exception in the nation’s robust fishing industry.

“In my visits to coastal communities early on I was really struck by how little there was to manage [fishing net pollution],” Kneppers said. “But we thought, ‘What if there was a system to prevent the pollution, but also upcycle it into funds, so that we would be able to get back to these communities [to collect more nets].”

Shortly after, Knepper’s company Bureo – taken from the native Mapuche population’s word for wave – received a $40,000 grant from local incubator program Start-Up Chile.

When Kneppers first started the project with his two partners – David Strover and Kevin Ahearn – the three were looked on a bit suspiciously by the fisherman, who dubbed them “Los Tres Gringos Locos” – the three crazy white guys.

“When we first came there I honestly don’t think the fisherman believed or understood, in our poor Spanish, exactly what we were doing,” Knepper said. “They were like, ‘Why are they scrubbing our trash, what is this?’”

“Scrubbing their trash” meant stripping down the used nets with brushes before sending them to being “shredded, pelletized and injected”, says Knepper, until they become plastic material that the skateboards are made out of.

After showing the fisherman video of the process as well as the final product, the community became much more receptive to the idea – bins to collect the nets are always full now and the recycled nets travel back to Santiago on the same trucks the fishermen use.

“We’re turning off the faucet, rather than wiping up the mess of water around the room,” he said. “It’s much more efficient and effective way to approach – this we work directly with the fishing communities, where they’re using the nets … and collecting them right at the source.”

Since launching in Coquímbo in January earlier this year, the company has used more than 2 tons of recycled fishing nets to make their own line of environmentally friendly skateboards. Next week they land in Chilean port city Concepción, where the industry is larger than their current total operation.

“Seventy large scale artisanal boats and several commercial fishing companies,” Kneppers said. “We estimate they are turning well-over 500 tons of nets a year.”

After an endorsement from American musician Jack Johnson as well as support from companies like Patagonia and program assistants the World Wildlife Federation, the company recently brought in $65,000 in a Kickstarter campaign – three times their original goal. It’s the kind of funding that the group hopes to use to expand beyond their initial gimmick – the create products from the material that millions of people use daily.

After making appearances on local TV stations, Knepper jokes that he had received 100s of Facebook requests from young Chileans interested in the project. While at a local skate park a boy rolls over to chat with him about the project – word is spreading about the gringos who recycle the nets into skateboards.

“Just as a wave starts with this small change on the surface of the ocean , we’re starting with a small change in an ocean of plastic,” Knepper said. “Yes, we’re 3 gringos on the ground making this little impact now, but if we can make that build up with time and energy we could making more and more products – that’s what we really believe in.”

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Startup nets to boards #4
By Zachary F. Volkert
15 May 2014

Here, the skateboard wears the branding: "Made in Chile." Bureo - taken from the indigenous Mapuche population's word for wave - was chosen by the company out of respect for the place that had allowed them to do the project.

“Just as a wave starts with this small change on the surface of the ocean , we’re starting with a small change in an ocean of plastic,” Knepper said. “Yes, we’re 3 gringos on the ground making this little impact now, but if we can make that build up with time and energy we could making more and more products – that’s what we really believe in.”

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Startup nets to boards #6
By Zachary F. Volkert
15 May 2014

Knepper shows off the sturdy plastic skateboard that was once only a tangled pile of fishing nets. Fisherman have grown quite receptive to the project, but at first were confused by the process and dubbed the Bureo team “Los Tres Gringos Locos” – the three crazy white guys.

“When we first came there I honestly don’t think the fisherman believed or understood, in our poor Spanish, exactly what we were doing,” Knepper said. “They were like, ‘Why are they scrubbing our trash, what is this?’”

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Startup nets to boards #2
By Zachary F. Volkert
15 May 2014

The skateboards are patterned with fish scales as a tribute to the sea life that the project saves by recycling the nets.

“In my visits to coastal communities early on I was really struck by how little there was to manage [fishing net pollution],” Kneppers said. “But we thought, ‘What if there was a system to prevent the pollution, but also upcycle it into funds, so that we would be able to get back to these communities [to collect more nets].”

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Startup nets to boards #1
By Zachary F. Volkert
15 May 2014

Ben Kneppers is giving waste wheels with the Bureo Skateboards project – recycling used fishing nets from along the Chilean coast and turning them into skateboards and, in the future, a slew of other products. The company has recycled 2 tons of fishing nets and raised more than $60,000 since January.

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Startup nets to boards #3
By Zachary F. Volkert
15 May 2014

After making appearances on local TV stations, Knepper jokes that he had received 100s of Facebook requests from young Chileans interested in the project. Here, a young Chilean boy skates over after recognizing Knepper to offer his compliments about the project. They talk for several minutes.

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Startup nets to boards #7
By Zachary F. Volkert
15 May 2014

Knepper takes a closer look at the surface of his board, making sure every joint is tight.

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Startup nets to boards #8
By Zachary F. Volkert
15 May 2014

After showing the fisherman video of the process as well as the final product, the community became much more receptive to the idea – bins to collect the nets are always full now and the recycled nets travel back to Santiago on the same trucks the fishermen use.

“We’re turning off the faucet, rather than wiping up the mess of water around the room,” he said. “It’s much more efficient and effective way to approach – this we work directly with the fishing communities, where they’re using the nets … and collecting them right at the source.”

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Druze Sheikhs of Lebanon
Kfarhim
By Walid
20 Mar 2014

Sheikh Nizam BOU KHZAM: (Kfarhim ) Founder and President of the "The Lebanese Environment House" association and co-founder of the Spiritual Board of Mount Lebanon, he has been a social worker for 32 years. In France, he founded the "Cedar and Olive" (Chalon) association. He is also Supervisor of Arab Ministers of the Environment in the Arab League (Egypt). He is passionate about hiking, tourism, traveling and reading.

Cheikh Nizam BOU KHZAM: (Kfarhim) Fondateur et Président de l'association « La Maison Libanaise de l’Environnement », et co-fondateur de le Commission Spirituelle du Mont Liban, il est travailleur social depuis 32 ans. En France, il a fondé l'association « Cèdre et Olive » (Chalon). Il est aussi Superviseur des Ministres Arabes de l’environnement au sein de la Ligue Arabe (Égypte). Passionné de randonnée, de voyages touristiques et de lecture.

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Tin Fever in Indonesia 33
By Steven Wassenaar
17 Mar 2014

Fondy (51 years) is a contracter working for PT Timah, his mine produces 60 tons of tin a month. He hopes to be able to produce 80-100 tons next year. The Pemali mine, the biggest legal mine in Bangka that has completely devastated the once green landscape. Operated by PT-Timah, it produces 60 tons of tin per month. Bangka Island (Indonesia) is devastated by illegal tin mines. The demand for tin has increased due to its use in smart phones and tablets.

Fondy (51 ans) est un sous-traitant, travaillant pour PT Timah, sa mine produit 60 tonnes d'étain par mois, il espère atteindre 80-100 tonnes l'année prochaine. Mine de Pemali, plus grande mine légale de Bangka. Exploité par PT-Timah. Elle produit 60 tonnes d'étain par mois. L'île de Bangka (Indonésie) est dévastée par des mines d'étain. La demande de l'étain a explosé à cause de son utilisation dans les smartphones et tablettes.

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Andrea's family
By Ulrik Pedersen
12 Mar 2014

Andrea is eating lunch with her mother and her father. She says she doesn't know if she will stay in Pungesti when she grows older. She thinks there is no future in Pungesti if Chevron continues its fracking activities because it will destroy the area's natural resources. The majority of villagers in Pungesti are farmers who depend on agriculture to survive.

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Andrea's family
By Ulrik Pedersen
12 Mar 2014

Andrea is eating lunch with her mother and her father. They took part in protests against Chevron. Police officers are constantly patrolling outside their house.

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Teenagers on the main square
By Ulrik Pedersen
11 Mar 2014

Two teenagers sitting on the main square, in front of a local shop. Unemployment is a plague in Pungesti. Most people have nothing to do besides hanging out around the bar and shops.

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Carriage
By Ulrik Pedersen
10 Mar 2014

A man on a carriage going through the village's main square. Pungesti is one of Romania's poorest villages. It lacks basic infrastructures such as paved roads.

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Children playing
By Ulrik Pedersen
10 Mar 2014

Two girls playing on the village's main road which also passes by Chevron's compound. Pungesti, Romania.

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Youth's hopeless future
By Ulrik Pedersen
10 Mar 2014

Pungesti's villagers say environmental impact of fracking is jeopodizing the future of villages like Pungesti. Many young people are already forced to leave the village and go to Western Romania to find work.

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Pungesti child
By Ulrik Pedersen
10 Mar 2014

Lack of opportunities and poverty is forcing the youth to leave Pungesti. Even education is difficult to access. Children who want to pursue their education after 9th grade are forced to go to school loated 37 kilometers away from Pungesti.

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angry man
By Ulrik Pedersen
10 Mar 2014

This poor farmer says there is no point in fighting Chevron and the Romanian government because Pungesti's resident will remain poor no matter what happens.

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Pungesti's elderly
By Ulrik Pedersen
10 Mar 2014

A poor elderly sitting in his small room. The man says the mayor burned down his house after he got in a fight with his father. Residents of Pungesti accuse the village's mayor of corruption.

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Youth unemployment
By Ulrik Pedersen
10 Mar 2014

Teenagers hanging out in the main square. Unemployment forces youth to either leave Pungesti, work with their family or apply for jobs at Chevron.

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Farmer
By Ulrik Pedersen
10 Mar 2014

A farmer on haystack. Most people in Pungesti are farmers and rely on agriculture to survive. They say they oppose Chevron because they were not given enough information about the company's activities. They also fear that fracking will lead to health problems, water and air pollution and deforestation.

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Man with horses
By Ulrik Pedersen
09 Mar 2014

A man with his horses on the main street of Pungesti. The village is one of the poorest in Romanian. It lacks basic infrastructures like paved roads. Horses remain the main means of transportation.

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Organizing the protests
By Ulrik Pedersen
09 Mar 2014

A man is motivating other protesters before going to Chevron's compound to demonstrate. There is no actual leader, but some people are more active than others and try to encourage people from the village to keep fighting for the cause.

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The activists' headquarter
By Ulrik Pedersen
09 Mar 2014

The activists' headquarters from where they organize their protests. At first, activists stayed in tent camps around Chevron's compound. They move to this house when the winter came. Hundreds of activists from all across the country flocked to Pungesti to supports the villagers' fight, but they all left to go back to their hometowns. Only one activist from Bucharest remains in the village now.

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Romanian flag
By Ulrik Pedersen
09 Mar 2014

A Romanian flag hung in a three. Similar flags and signs saying "Chevron go out" or "No Fracking in Pungesti" have been hung across Pungesti and the surrounding villages to protest against' Chevron's fracking activities in the area. Pungesti, Romania.

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Horseriding
By Ulrik Pedersen
09 Mar 2014

A man scouting the area around Chevron's compound. Horses are still the main means of transportation in Pungesti.

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Police filming protesters
By Ulrik Pedersen
09 Mar 2014

Police filming protesters. Activists often post videos on social media to raise awareness about their cause. As a result, the police also started filming the protests in case protesters accuse them of brutality.

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Gendarmerie
By Ulrik Pedersen
09 Mar 2014

A police officer observing villagers protesting against Chevron's fracking activities in the area. Pungesti is one of the poorest villages in Romania but its people have been standing up against the US giant corporation Chevron for months.

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Encounter
By Ulrik Pedersen
09 Mar 2014

A protester is trying to provoke a police officer from the gendarmerie. Both parties constantly try to provoke each other to justify their presence and actions.

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Villagers gathering
By Ulrik Pedersen
09 Mar 2014

Villagers discussing Chevron's activities. Residents and farmers of Pungesti are determined to keep fighting against Chevron's exploitation of their land.

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Villagers Gathering
By Ulrik Pedersen
09 Mar 2014

Men from the village often gather to discuss issues and strategies related to Chevron's activities in the area.

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Horseriding
By Ulrik Pedersen
09 Mar 2014

A carriage on a muddy road in Pungesti. Pungesti is one of Romania's poorest villages. It lacks basic infrastructures. Only the village's main road is paved.

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Pungesti village
By Ulrik Pedersen
08 Mar 2014

Pungesti is a typical Romanian village, with a church, a bar and a small bank and post office. Pungesti, Romania. Unemployment and poverty is forcing young people to leave the village.

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Children playing
By Ulrik Pedersen
08 Mar 2014

Children playing football in front of the fields used by local farmers and also located next to Chevron's compound.

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Chevron's guards
By Ulrik Pedersen
08 Mar 2014

Chevron guard signaling demonstrators to back up from Chevron's compound in Pungesti. Guards are well equipped with helmet, shin pads and glasses. Many residents were injured by guards and the riot police in protests that turned violent.

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Pungesti: The village that said no
pungesti, romania
By Ulrik Pedersen
06 Mar 2014

The villagers of Pungesti, Romania are unlikely eco-activists. The tiny village garnered worldwide attention in October 2013 when villagers started protesting against US energy giant Chevron's fracking activities in their village. Hundreds of activists from across the country also flocked to the Pungesti to support the residents in their fight. Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”, consists of pumping chemicals at high pressure into deep rock to extract oil or gas. The village's inhabitants, most of whom are elderly farmers who rely on agriculture to survive, are worried fracking could damage the local environment by contaminating their land and ground water. They say fracking will lead to health problems, air pollution and deforestation. Following the protests, police and gendarmerie increased their presence in the village and many residents were subsequently injured in protests that turned violent.

In 2010, the Romanian Government quietly allowed fracking operations to commence by signing an agreement with Chevron, giving it access to more than two million acres of land in Romania. The villagers managed to collect over a thousand signatures from a population of 3,300 for a petition demanding the dismissal of the mayor, who they accuse of corruption. However, the Romanian government disregarded the petition and the mayor remains in office.