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Mysterious images of ancient Mexican forest to be exhibited

PUBLISHED: 20:03 13 August 2018 | UPDATED: 16:27 14 August 2018

Alligator lizard    Picture: Roberto Pedraza Ruiz

Alligator lizard Picture: Roberto Pedraza Ruiz

ROBERTOPEDRAZARUIZ

Conservationist Roberto Pedraza Ruiz is exhibiting his photographs of the ancient forest of Sierra Gorda in Mexico in East Anglia this week.

“It’s funny to find how many people think of Mexico as a hot place with deserts, maybe tropical jungles, but no more than that - but it happens to be one of the top ten mega diverse countries in the world,” said award-winning Mexican photographer and conservationist Roberto Pedraza Ruiz, whose work is being shown at an exhibition in East Anglia this week.

Roberto is head of conservation for Grupo Ecologica Sierra Gorda (GESG) - an organisation that has partnered with Suffolk-based international conservation charity World Land Trust to protect ancient forests in Sierra Gorda, Mexico. The Sierra Gorda mountain range contains many different habitats, including pine-oak forest, tropical evergreen forest, and cloud forest - the most threatened type of forest in the world.

The trust, which has a head office in Halesworth, says the forests in the heart of Mexico are being lost to illegal logging and man-made fires, threatening the existence of the wildlife that call this place home: from one of the world’s smallest birds, the bumblebee hummingbird, to six cat species including jaguar and puma, as well as the critically endangered big-footed salamander, which was thought to be extinct before it was rediscovered in one of Sierra Gorda’s caves last year.

Roberto grew up in this region - it was his parents who founded CESG 30 years ago - which means he knows where to go to find the wildlife and flora which are the subjects of his stunning images, which will go on show at the Forum in Norwich from August 13 to 17th.

Serrated casquehead iguana   Picture: Roberto Pedraza RuizSerrated casquehead iguana Picture: Roberto Pedraza Ruiz

He says he hopes his latest exhibition will raise awareness about the Sierra Gorda and the magnificent natural environment that is at risk.

“Sierra Gorda is my neighbourhood and easy to reach for me, but very exotic and foreign for a person living in Mexico City, so I like to think my images are tools to bring the natural world to them,” he said.

“I have witnessed the power of these images to move people and change their minds about nature and conservation when I have done exhibitions, articles or “biodiversity” talks, especially with children.

“Many people do not have an idea of what we are losing in what is turning into a sixth mass extinction, and if they don’t know about it or appreciate nature’s beauty why would they care and do something for their environment?”

Conservationist and photographer Roberto Pedraza RuizConservationist and photographer Roberto Pedraza Ruiz

Director of communications at World Land Trust, Dan Bradbury, added: “The ancient forests of Sierra Gorda, in the heart of Mexico, are not very well known, but it is an incredibly beautiful area. The mountains are mysteriously cloaked in clouds, and underneath are huge trees which are hundreds of years old, pristine rivers home to rare salamanders, and many animals and plants which can only be found in Mexico.

“It isn’t easy to do this enchanted landscape justice in a photograph, but Roberto is an exceptional photographer, and his photos show how vitally important it is that we protect this habitat from the threats it faces.”

‘Discovering the secrets of Sierra Gorda, Mexico’ is being held at The Forum, Millennium Plain, Norwich, NR2 1TF from August 13 to 17. Opening hours are 9am to 9.30pm. For more information about the partnership visit worldlandtrust.org/ancientforests

Big-footed salamander        Picture:ROBERTO PEDRAZARUIZBig-footed salamander Picture:ROBERTO PEDRAZARUIZ

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