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Photographer documents the last surviving rainforests of Great Britain

·2 mins

Lush greens, tangled wood, blurs of light – giant images of rainforests hang on the walls of a church in London. The images are not of tropical rainforests, but very rare temperate rainforest in the UK. This type of woodland once covered most of western Britain and Ireland. Today, due to excessive agriculture and development, rainforests cover less than 1% of Britain, found in isolated pockets running from Cornwall in the south to northwest Scotland. Photographer Joanna Vestey has captured the beauty of these rainforests through a series of photographs and audio recordings, aiming to raise awareness of the endangered habitat. Vestey’s work is inspired by the concept of “forest bathing” and she hopes to share the experience of standing in a rainforest through her art. Supported by a grant from the UK’s Art Council, Vestey is working with researchers to test the health benefits of the audio and visual experience. She has also partnered with a charity that aims to restore rainforest cover across the UK. The charity is conducting research on the mental health and wellbeing benefits of rainforests and exploring ways to synthesize the compounds from the rainforest for use in healthcare settings. Vestey’s goal is to bring her photographs into support and wellbeing spaces while raising awareness about the UK’s remaining rainforests.