Nestled in Northeast India next to the Brahmaputra River sits Majuli Island, a giant sandbar that happens to be the largest river island on Earth, home to some 150,000 people. It is also the location of the 1,360 acre Molai Forest, one of the most unusual woodlands in the world for the incredible fact that it was planted by a single man. Since 1979, forestry worker Jadav Payeng has dedicated his life to planting trees on the island, creating a forest that has surpassed the scale of New York’s Central Park.
While home to such a large population, rapidly increasing erosion over the last 100 years has reduced the land mass of Majuli Island to less than half. Spurred by the dire situation, Payeng transformed himself into a modern day Johnny Appleseed and singlehandedly planted thousands upon thousands of plants, including 300 hectares of bamboo.
Payeng’s work has been credited with significantly fortifying the island, while providing a habitat for several endangered animals which have returned to the area; a herd of nearly 100 elephants (which has now given birth to an additional ten), Bengal tigers, and a species of vulture that hasn’t been seen on the island in over 40 years. Gives you more than a little hope for the world, doesn’t it?
Filmmaker William Douglas McMaster recently wrote and directed this beautiful documentary short titled Forest Man from the perspective of Payeng’s friend, photographer Jitu Kalita. The project was funded in part last year through Kickstarter. The video is a bit longer than what we usually see here on Colossal, but completely worth your time. (via Gizmodo)
Our Changing Seas III is the third piece in a series of large-scale ceramic coral reef sculptures by artist Courtney Mattison. The sprawling installation is entirely hand-built and is meant to show the devastating transition coral reefs endure when faced with climate change, a process called bleaching. She shares via email:
At its heart, this piece celebrates my favorite aesthetic aspects of a healthy coral reef surrounded by the sterile white skeletons of bleached corals swirling like the rotating winds of a cyclone. There is still time for corals to recover even from the point of bleaching if we act quickly to decrease the threats we impose. Perhaps if my work can influence viewers to appreciate the fragile beauty of our endangered coral reef ecosystems, we will act more wholeheartedly to help them recover and even thrive.
In this clip shot yesterday by members of the Assumption Parish Office of Emergency Preparedness in Louisiana, an entire stand of trees is suddenly swallowed by an underwater sinkhole above a collapsing salt mine. The sinkhole is part of an ongoing environmental disaster in Bayou Corne, and efforts are underway to prevent it from spreading, however it has already forced the evacuation of an entire town. (via Stellar)
The Thorncrown Chapel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas is considered one of the crowning examples of organic architecture, a philosophy credited to Frank Lloyd Wright that promotes a harmony between the natural world and human habitation. The non-denominational chapel was designed in 1980 by an apprentice of Wright’s, architect E. Fay Jones, who employed the use of steel and glass to create a weightless, almost translucent structure that offers sweeping views in all directions of the surrounding Ozark habitat. In keeping with the organic design of the chapel Fay asked that no construction element be larger than what two people could carry through the woods by hand.
Recently a power company has applied to build a 48-mile high voltage transmission line through Northwest Arkansas that will cut through the woods right next to the chapel, shattering the views and serenity offered by the extremely unique building that was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2000. For those interested, the Arkansas Public Service Commission is accepting comments from the public regarding the proposed power line construction. You can also read much more over on Hyperallergic.
When looking at the problem of bird populations shrinking in urban areas due to loss of habitat, Nethlerlands-based product designer Klaas Kuiken was struck with the idea of improving a common bird home: residential roofs. In consultation with the Vogelbescherming (the Dutch bird association) Kuiken designed a ceramic birdhouse that adheres to the ubiquitous roof tiles found throughout the country. The house contains a removable basket to aid in maintenance after mating season and is made with materials that can resist extreme cold in the winter. First designed in 2009 the birdhouses have finally gone into production and 100 are now available for sale. See more over on designboom.
In her delicate crafted porcelain sculptures conceptual artist Kate McDowell expresses her interpretation of the clash between the natural world and the modern-day environmental impact of industrialized society. The resulting works can be equal parts amusing and disturbing as the anatomical forms of humans and animals become inexplicably intertwined in her delicate porcelain forms. Via her artist statment:
In my work this romantic ideal of union with the natural world conflicts with our contemporary impact on the environment. These pieces are in part responses to environmental stressors including climate change, toxic pollution, and gm crops. They also borrow from myth, art history, figures of speech and other cultural touchstones. In some pieces aspects of the human figure stand-in for ourselves and act out sometimes harrowing, sometimes humorous transformations which illustrate our current relationship with the natural world. In others, animals take on anthropomorphic qualities when they are given safety equipment to attempt to protect them from man-made environmental threats.
Jody Xiong of DDB China in conjunction with the China Environmental Protection Foundation created this wonderful outdoor campaign to create a subtle visual reminder of the environmental benefits of walking versus driving. Enormous white canvases with a bare tree were placed across 132 crosswalks in 15 Chinese cities. As pedestrians crossed their shoe soles were imprinted with a small amount of green paint, leaving behind a trail of leaf-like footprints. BBD estimated that nearly 3,920,000 people passed through the installations, and the final posters were eventually hung has billboards in several urban locations. Awesome! (via moeity)