Finding Wilderness in Europe with Bruno D’Amicis

By Bruno D’Amicis

After having spent more than seven months over a three-year period working in the Western Tatra Mountains of Slovakia, I had collected so many experiences and observations that I was filled with a deep longing for even more intensive work in wilderness.  I faced the task of finding a way to promote wilderness conservation. This work also made me realize that very few people know of the existence of true wilderness in Europe and even less understand the very strict, but necessary, conservation measures needed to protect this lingering natural heritage.

Milky Way and starry sky over the Murelle Amphitheater in the heart of Majella National Park

Wilderness conservation means allowing long-term natural dynamic processes to take place which inevitably creates a gap between the vision of scientists and conservationists and the overall understanding of the general audience.

In order to fill this gap,  I decided to contribute by using the universal language of photography to describe complex processes and make difficult concepts simpler. By spending a lot of time in the wilderness, hiking and bivouacking on my own, I thought I could share the joy of experiencing nature first-hand with others and inspire people to do the same.

Apollo butterfly on thistle flowers on a foggy summer day

Therefore, together with the PAN Parks Foundation, which is helping with fundraising and promotion, I developed the idea for a three-year-long photojournalistic survey of a ‘test’ wilderness area. The Wilderness area I picked for my fieldwork is the Majella National Park in Central Italy. This park protects the wild massif the locals call “Montagna Madre” – “Mother Mountain”, and lies only two hours East from the bustling metropolis of Rome, in the highest and wildest sector of the Apennines. Dozens of peaks are well over 2000 meters, surrounded by deep gorges and vast forests – habitat for golden eagles, Apennine chamois (the “protagonist” of this project), brown bears and wolves, and an incredible array of smaller animals and plant species.  Two thirds of Italy’s biodiversity are in preserved in the Park.

Wild Eurasian wildcat on a frosty morning

The plan is to spend at least 210 days in the field, taking pictures of species, landscapes and ecosystems in order to create a powerful collection of unique images.  Together with compelling text, I will produce ten complete stories, each one would focus on the basic concepts of modern wilderness conservation. In the meantime, I will regularly post pictures, reports and multimedia material on a dedicated website. Follow my work in wilderness.

Pillow-shaped Silene acaulis on Majella's altitude plateau.

About Bruno D’Amicis

Based in Abruzzi Italy, Bruno D’Amicis is a professional wildlife photojournalist.  He  specializes in mountain ecosystems and wilderness conservation issues and is the iLCP October 2011 Photographer of the Month.  He took the time to answer some questions about his photography in a Q&A. Hear about his life behind the Lens.

Bruno will be presenting on his work documenting the remaining wild places in Europe at WildPhotos 2011 October 21-22 at the Royal Geographical Society in London.

The views expressed in this guest blog post are those of the International League of Conservation Photographers and not necessarily those of the National Geographic Society. Readers are welcome to exchange ideas or comments, but National Geographic reserves the right to edit or delete abusive or objectionable content.


Meet the Author
The mission of the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP) is to further environmental and cultural conservation through photography. iLCP is a Fellowship of more than 100 photographers from all around the globe. As a project based organization, iLCP coordinates Conservation Photography Expeditions to get world-renowned photographers in the field teamed with scientists, writers, videographers and conservation groups to gather visual assets that are used to create conservation communications campaigns to foment conservation successes. iLCP is a 501 (c) (3) organization. Support our work at this link.