AS THE COVID pandemic swept the globe tourist numbers fell away to nothing overnight. Amongst those places feeling the effect were the 19 parks in 11 African countries managed by African Parks Network.

Alarmed by what they were seeing, photographers Pie Aerts and Marion Payr set up ‘Prints for Wildlife’, an initiative that was designed to raise desperately needed funds to contribute towards the protection of Africa’s last wild places as well as support the communities that depended on them.

“The idea was simple,” says Pie. “In summer 2020 and again this year we asked a selection of internationally       acclaimed       fellow       wildlife

photographers, as well as young and emerging talent from African countries to contribute one image each. We then offered 30x45cm prints in limited runs of 100 for $100 each, excluding postage. After printing and handling 100% of the proceeds were donated to African Parks, and the two campaigns have raised $1.75 million dollars.

Hahnemühle also made a valuable contribution to the campaign from its very own environmental initiative, Green Rooster, donating enough of its Natural Line Hemp paper to produce 10,000 prints, ensuring results were of the highest quality and that production costs were kept as low as possible. It was an appropriate connection, since Pie is a Hahnemühle Natural Line ambassador, outputting his own prints on this media.

“Already my shipping was carbon neutral,” says Pie, “and I was looking for a paper to support this. Previously I used Hahnemühle’s Bright White product, which gave excellent results, but when the Natural Line, which features fine art papers made from bamboo, hemp and agave, was introduced I wanted to take a closer look.”

The plants that provide the cellulose for the Natural Line papers require minimal maintenance, grow quickly and don’t need any pesticides. Their rapid growth means that more cellulose can be produced on the same crop land than with other raw materials, and they also require much less water, helping to save valuable resources.

“Along with the sustainable qualities I also wanted to work with a paper that would give me the same quality result I had with Bright White,” says Pie. “Hemp gave me superb results that ensures my prints look just as good as they ever did, if not better.”

It’s a classic ‘win, win’ situation, since those collecting Pie’s work are invariably environmentally aware, so not only do they get a great quality image but the sustainable message is a selling point.

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