Shifting sands Landscapes all over the world are changing rapidly. Sometimes it’s the result of direct human intervention, sometimes climate change is to blame – more often than not both collide. Such is the case in Morocco, where many of the desert oases that have harboured life for hundreds, if not thousands, of years are now drying up, fuelled by a combination of destructive farming practices and increased drought driven by climate change. On page 26, Matteo Fagotto and Matilde Gattoni take a tour of the Draa Valley oases to find more about the tools being wielded to hold back the sands.

Change is also underway closer to home. On page 18, Mark Rowe explores the problem of coastal erosion in the British Isles. Given the expense that comes with preventing erosion, so far, it seems very little is being done to tackle the problem. But sticking our heads in the sand could mean even greater expense further down the line. A million properties are at risk of inundation by 2050, along with major infrastructure. As is so often the case, nature provides some solutions. Just as more natural farming practices can help protect land in Morocco, so too can the UK’s natural landscapes – such as saltmarshes, mudflats, shingle beaches, sand dunes and sea cliffs – provide protection against waves and storm surges. But with these landscapes also under threat, we can’t take nature for granted.

And, don’t forget to turn to page 60, to find the winners of this year’s Earth Photo competition, celebrating our planet’s landscapes, people and nature while once again highlighting the need to protect them. Katie Burton Editor


‘Looking at the oases disappearing is both heartbreaking and fascinating,’ says Matteo Fagotto (page 26), who with photographer Matilde Gattoni travelled to the increasingly dry Draa Valley region of Morocco where oases are in trouble. ‘Witnessing the end of a millenary civilisation while nature reclaims its rightful spot reminds you that we are guests - not masters on this planet.’

‘We found it fascinating that a project in a small orphanage in Kampot is able to recover and preserve the traditional music of Cambodia, which was in danger of disappearing after the genocide of the Khmer Rouge, while at the same time empowering these young blind people by giving them the tools to be able to fulfil themselves as musicians’ says Laura Fornell (page 34).

‘Throughout much of Africa’s history, its image has been defined from an outsider’s point of view – it’s time that changed,’ says Bryony Cottam. On page 42, she speaks to the photographers championing local representation as part of a new project: Postcards of Africa, which aims to create an archive of images that reflect the diversity and complex history of the continent.




July 2020 Volume 92 Issue 07

Publisher Graeme Gourlay

Editor Katie Burton Design Gordon Beckett Staff writer Bryony Cottam Operations director Simon Simmons Sales and marketing director Chloe Smith

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Cover image Matilde Gattoni