13 April 2008

Highlighted Environmental Artist: Ben Coultate

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Ben Coultate is a Civil Engineer living in London who has a passion for photography according to his Flickr profile. The images posted on his page show aerial images of the desert unlike any I have ever seen. This series includes 18 images of the Namib Desert that are compelling, mesmerizing, and full of beauty.

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The Namib Desert is in Namibia and Southwest Angola and features the tallest sand dunes in the world, up to 340 meters high. (source) "The world's oldest desert, the Namib Desert has existed for at least 55 million years, completely devoid of surface water but bisected by several dry riverbeds." (source) It is an extremely arid region receiving "less than 0.4 inches of rain annually and is almost completely barren" (source)

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"A major threat to the Namib Desert is the impact of off-road driving. The impact is the greatest on the gravel plains where depressions left by vehicles remain for more than 40 years because the rainfall is too episodic and sparse to erase them. These tracks are unsightly and cause long-lasting damage to the lichen fields. Lichens are particularly sensitive to mechanical damage as they grow extremely slowly and cannot quickly repair damaged thalli. Most of the damage is done by mining company vehicles when on prospecting expeditions." (source)

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"The present conservation status of the Namib Desert is good as most of the ecoregion is intact and is protected in extensive conservation blocks. The Namib-Naukluft National Park is the largest conservation area in southern Africa and protects the central area of this ecoregion." (source)

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