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Before and after: In four short years, new forest takes root

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As a freelance photographer, I’ve shot everything from Tibetan wheat farmers to reproductive health clinics in the jungles of the Democratic Republic of Congo. I’ve become skilled at capturing a “day in the life” of many of my subjects, but it’s rare that I get the chance to go back and discover what happened to them after I caught them on film.

In 2012, I spent two days on my first Conservation International (CI) assignment, photographing the Green Wall project in the Gunung Gede-Pangrango National Park, about two hours’ drive from the Indonesian capital, Jakarta. When I returned four years later for another assignment, I was struck by what had changed — and what had stayed the same.

Decades of deforestation fueled by logging and agricultural expansion has shrunk Indonesia’s forests to a fraction of their former size; in recent years Indonesia overtook Brazil as the country with the world’s highest deforestation rate.

CI started the Green Wall reforestation project in 2008 to protect the water reservoir that sustains local communities and rare species — and…

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