PLANET ARTIST in RESIDENCE
Between April and June 2021 I was an Artist in residence with Planet Labs the largest global imagining network in the world. On my first day I was introduced to the Planet Explorer which is a huge online database of all the images Planet has ever taken. I had some initial ideas of how I could use images and what I was looking for but I spend the first few weeks looking at the images which were spectacular. The main area I wanted to explore whilst on my residency was Climate change and using the world largest global imaging network seemed like the best use of the resources I had been given access too.
11 countries taking part
12 million draught resistant trees planted in Senegal
5 Million hectares of degraded land restored in Nigeria
3 Million hectares of land restored through a local practise called Zaï in Burkina Faso
5 Million hectares of land restored creating 500,000 additional tonnes of food in Niger
I started looking at Glaciers in Patagonia as I have always wanted to visit them (microorganisms have been found in the glaciers as possible proof there could be life on other planets/moons like Enceladus etc), Permafrost melting sites and the disappearing forests of the Amazon.
However, lately, I have been thinking about everyday changes we can make collectively that can help limit climate change so therefore I chose something wholly more positive and less of a doomsday trope. Therefore I decided to make my work about Great Green Wall located in the Sahel region in Africa (Central Africa which is just below the large desert Sahara region).
The project is creating jobs, limiting poverty, fighting climate change and improving millions of lives. The Sahel region is unique in that it is at the forefront of the most negative aspects of climate change in the world. Due to this people living in the area are facing a devastating impact on their lives which include drought, lack of food, disputes over land and mass migration. Communities from Senegal to Djibouti are fighting back and they are planting trees by the millions.
By 2030 the project aims to have at least 100 million hectares of degraded land, sequester 250 tonnes of Carbon Dioxide and create 10 million jobs across the area.
The Great Green Wall also supports 15 out of 17 of the UN’s sustainable development goals.
More info can be found here
Info on how you can donate here
The next stage of the process in my residency was to look at the satellite imagery for the areas where the Great Green Wall is located. The Planet explorer has so many different filters to measure vegetation in any given image I had so many options to choose from. Thankfully I was able to gather image data from many different points from across the Sahel region from 2015 – to 2020. Developing the data was a big learning curve for me so the help of Dr Leonardo Reyes Acosta was vital for me to develop the work. I experimented with several types of data visuals before settling on the Starburst design and then 4 separate designs to created one large image that encompasses 4 years of data from a particular area.
Having found vegetation growth across this area in Burkina Faso I decided to keep annualising data and looked at areas right across central Africa including Chad, Niger, Mauritania, Nigeria and Senegal which provided very similar results.
The vegetation growth is represented by the blue, the darker the blue the more vegetation growth the orange areas represent areas of no tree or vegetation growth. I also decided to work imagery with pencil and thread into the piece to give it some extra definition and depth.
I couldn’t have hoped for more encouraging results, the Great Green Wall is making a huge difference!
This is the first visualization I completed based on the data found in an area in Burkina Faso. I was so pleased to find from the images that there is sustained tree and vegetation growth in this area.