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Campaign For National Parks Photography Competition 2021 – Documenting Climate Change

Logo: Campaign for National Parks
Sunset along Stanage Edge © Kieran Metcalfe
Sunset along Stanage Edge © Kieran Metcalfe

Following on from the release of our National Parks and the Climate Emergency report this summer, and as we prepare for COP26 in Scotland in November, we wanted to use our annual photography competition as an opportunity to further move people to understand the climate crisis impacting our National Parks and take action to help protect them.

“We want people to really think about the impact of climate change in our National Parks, while showcasing the immense photography talent we know exists in National Parks up and down England and Wales,” said CNP’s Chief Executive Anita Konrad. “Not just established photographers, but the next generation – and those who may not have SLR cameras, but enjoy taking photos on their smartphone.”

The competition, which is now open for entries, includes three categories:

  • Campaign for National Parks Photographer of the Year (21 years+)
  • Young Photographer of the Year (under 21 years old)
  • People’s Choice Award: Best Phone Photograph
Winner - Osprey in the Cairngorms © Peter Stevens
Winner - Osprey in the Cairngorms © Peter Stevens

The documenting climate change theme for the 2021 Campaign for National Parks Photography Competition, run in partnership with Digital Photographer Magazine, is designed to attract images of both the impact of climate change in National Parks, but also the innovative solutions underway too.

From nature recovery projects including tree planting, peatland restoration and reintroducing species to the wild; to innovative measures such as renewable energy and sustainable transport, particularly ones which are well-suited to the sensitive landscape in National Parks, there are stories to be told of climate change with means of great photography.

Anita added: “National Parks have a key role to play in a green recovery. Landscapes feel the impact of climate change, but also have huge potential to mitigate against these changes - benefitting nature, people and climate. This year's climate change theme for the photography competition looks at exactly this. We want to use striking images to connect people with how the climate emergency affects National Parks and the work underway to address this.

Peatland restoration in cheviots by Northumberland National Park Authority
Peatland restoration in cheviots by Northumberland National Park Authority

“We are particularly keen to see images which really show how our National Parks have been impacted by climate change,” said Anita, “They're not always the prettiest scenes to look at, so it’s not something we see shared by many photographers, but photographs have such inherent power to move people – to shine a light on issues which really matter and to lead to behaviour change.”

Winners will be chosen by a judging panel, apart from the People’s Choice Award which will be voted for by the public, and will see their photographs published in Digital Photographer Magazine, CNP’s Viewpoint Magazine with a good chance of coverage in other publications. The judging panel includes Editor of Digital Photographer Magazine Lauren Scott and established National Parks Photographer Kieran Metcalfe.

Kieran won CNP’s 2019 photography competition with his incredible photograph of sunset on Stanage Edge in Peak District National Park. 

The competition is open to photographers of all ages and levels of experience. Black and white images and colour photos are accepted, as is film and digital photos – although film must be scanned and submitted digitally via the online form. Deadline for entries is 4 October 2021.

For more details or to enter, please see: www.cnp.org.uk/photography-competition

Update 22 October 2021 - And the winners are…

Nature recovery success: Porlock Marsh in Exmoor National Park by Shaun Davey – main winner
Nature recovery success: Porlock Marsh in Exmoor National Park by Shaun Davey – main winner

Stark images of extreme weather, wildlife in decline and pollution were accompanied by images of hope and nature recovery in Campaign for National Parks’ (CNP) Photography Competition 2021.

Exmoor-based photographer Shaun Davey won over the judges with his stunning image of sunset on Porlock Marsh in Exmoor National Park to be crowned the overall winner.

Threatened species: Curlew at West Witton in Yorkshire Dales National Park by Deborah Clarke – highly commended in main award category
Threatened species: Curlew at West Witton in Yorkshire Dales National Park by Deborah Clarke – highly commended in main award category

"Porlock Marsh is a salt marsh on the Exmoor coast,” said Shaun. “The marsh is only 25 years old; it was previously agricultural land. It was formed when Exmoor National Park Authority and the National Trust took the controversial decision to ‘let nature take its course’ when the shingle ridge protecting the area from the sea was breached in a storm in 1996. The marsh is now a haven for wildlife and a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and an outstanding location for photographers, walkers and birdwatchers. The image shows a sunset across the flooded marsh at high tide - the breach is clearly visible beyond the more distant tree.”

Species decline: Stonechat in New Forest National Park by Fletcher Foot, aged 14 – Young Photographer of the Year
Species decline: Stonechat in New Forest National Park by Fletcher Foot, aged 14 – Young Photographer of the Year

The judges praised both the technical brilliance of the photo – composition and lighting – and the powerful story it was sharing, one which perfectly illustrates the role that nature recovery has to play in the climate crisis.

Deborah Clarke, with her photo of a curlew in the foothills of Penhill, West Witton, Yorkshire Dales National Park – an under-threat red-listed species now thriving thanks to sustainable farming in the area – and Jon Roberts, with his photo of flooded fields in Derwent Water in Lake District National Park, were highly commended as runners-up in the main category.

Excess carbon emissions: Hope Cement Works and Hope Valley in Peak District National Park by Simon Walkden – People’s Choice Best Phone Photo winner
Excess carbon emissions: Hope Cement Works and Hope Valley in Peak District National Park by Simon Walkden – People’s Choice Best Phone Photo winner

The Young Photographer of the Year award went to Fletcher Foot, aged 14, for his image of a stonechat on dried gorse in New Forest National Park. Fletcher said: “Stonechat breeding numbers are down in the New Forest, one of the impacts of climate change. You can see the dried gorse which it is perched on - a further impact of climate change. Hotter temperatures are affecting the number and range of species and it alters their seasonal activity. It is only going to get worse if we don’t act straight away.”

A public vote returned Peak District photographer Simon Walkden as the winner of the People’s Choice Phone Photo category with his image of Hope Valley in Peak District National Park, with Hope Cement Works visible in the distance, emitting more than 1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year.

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