Last year renowned conservation photographer Daniel Beltrá released a series of photographs documenting the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest. Focusing specifically on the destruction caused by the building of the Belo Monte Dam in Brazil, the series is exclusively composed of aerial photographs. In his Artist Statement, Beltrá explains, ‘I often work from the air, which more easily allows for the juxtaposition of nature with the destruction wrought by unsustainable development. The unique perspective of aerial photography helps emphasize that the Earth and its resources are finite.’
The Belo Monte Dam will divert 80% of the Xingu River, a major tributary of the Amazon. As a result, a 100km long stretch of river will dry out and 668 square kilometres of rainforest and inhabited land will flood. Overall, the construction of the dam will affect at least 1,500 square kilometres of land and displace between 20,000 and 40,000 people.
Beltrá’s photography illustrates the true scale of the project’s devastation and the land’s irreparable transition from rainforest to barren wasteland. Both beautiful and infuriating, the series epitomises art’s capacity to act as a conduit for change.