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Categorized | Articles, Patrick Di Fruscia

Close To Nature — Giving Back to Nature (full story)

©Patrick Di Fruscia
Man of the Jungle, Sumatra, Indonesia
Settings: 70mm focal length, ƒ4@1/60 sec., ISO 1600

Story and photography by Patrick Di Fruscia

I consider myself very fortunate to have found what makes me feel alive. 

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My passion for nature photography has permitted me to travel to some of the most amazing places on Earth, to have amazing life experiences, to express my creativity and meet amazing people along the way.

As much as all of these made me feel incredible, I always had a deep feeling that I was not doing enough, not giving enough back. I remember one day I heard something that really struck a chord inside of me: always leave a place better than you found it.

These words led me to start thinking about my whole life; if I was to die tomorrow, would I have made this world a better place, better for others to enjoy? No matter how I looked at it, I kept telling myself; I know I could do a lot better. Yes, I am creating, sharing the beauty of our planet, inspiring others to care for nature but for what purpose exactly? Is all this strictly ego driven? Kind of hard to explain but lately, more than ever, I have this little voice inside my head (maybe I am going a little crazy) that keeps telling me, ‘Make sure you start acting now!’

The last thing I want to do is to leave my true purpose behind. So for the past few months I have reflected greatly on who I am, who I want to be and how can I get there? It is only by experiencing who I did not want to be that I was able to see who I truly wanted to become.

I know that I have several passions — exploring nature, traveling and photography of course, but I also love to help others as much as I can. The latter one is constantly having more and more meaning in my life. Being able to take pictures of amazing locations is one thing, but giving back and making a difference in our world and in people’s lives is priceless. I had to find a way to combine all my passions, bring them together in a way that would really make a difference. 

It’s for that reason that I have decided to create the Give Back to Nature project. Its first goal will be to help plant one million trees in developing countries ravaged by deforestation and help rebuild their natural landscapes.

This project also will directly help the villages and communities, which are suffering from extreme poverty by employing villagers to plant these trees. When farmers cannot grow anything, their farms fail and they have no option but to move to overcrowded cities to look for work. Oftentimes they must resort to selling themselves or their families into slavery just to survive. Let’s make sure this does not happen. 

We all have the power to give back, empower people, restore hope, reduce poverty and allow them to support their families. This new project has already led me to visit Indonesia, one of the impoverished countries where some of the trees will be planted. My role was to document, with pictures and videos, new potential plantation sites and meet the people of the communities that will be working the fields. This also led me to witness the vast deforestation of the Sumatran rainforest where the land and forests have been cleared for the development of palm oil plantations. 

©Patrick Di Fruscia
The tree that inspired the logo Give Back to Nature

Palm Oil is the most-used vegetable oil in the world, and is found in our foods, cosmetics, cleaning products and fuels. Unfortunately, a large proportion of palm oil expansion occurs at the expense of biodiversity and ecosystems. Out of all the mammals in Indonesia, one third of the species are now considered critically endangered because of this enormous problem.

During one of my treks in the rainforest, I was very fortunate to encounter one of the magnificent great apes in the wild. A large male orangutan (which are sadly also now on the critically endangered list, with populations in sharp decline) was standing literally a few feet in front of me. What an incredibly beautiful creature and definitely an experience I will remember forever.

I know this might be far-fetched, but while standing close to him there was this moment when he looked at me in the eyes and I felt a cry for help. It was a beautiful experience that moved me deeply. I am aware that I might have felt this because I am aware of the current situation, but this experience reinforced my conviction that setting up the Give Back to Nature project was the right decision. 

Since my return, I have been working hard on the project, which I hold very close to my heart. I truly believe that together we can make a difference and leave this world a better place. It’s not the work of a single brick that builds kingdoms but more the way they all hold themselves together that makes it possible.

I think it is imperative that we give back — to our community, to a charity we believe in, to our planet, in other words, give back any which way we can. Let’s do what we can to make a difference and, hopefully, along the way inspire others to do the same. 

Learn more and see how easy it is to support the project by visiting

www.GiveBacktoNature.com.

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