On The Move

Commissioned by the Mediterranean Consortium for Nature and Culture, and coordinated by DiversEarth, On the Move is a unique, travelling photography exhibition celebrating the lives, challenges and ecological knowledge of mobile pastoralists in the Mediterranean region.

From North Africa to the Middle East, from the Iberian Peninsula to Turkey, Greece and the Balkans, the exhibition features the work and talents of 6 professional photographers from six countries.

Traditional pastoralism is facing difficult times in the Middle East today. The Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon (SPNL) has been leading the Mediterranean Consortium’s project here and has been exploring the many threats to both pastoralism and nature in the region (Lebanon, Jordan and Syria). Not only is the political context difficult, there is little understanding of the different types of pastoralism and transhumance there, and its real impacts on nature in light of changing climatic conditions. Policies have been unsupportive and even harmful for years and rangeland management takes little account of the knowledge of shepherds in decision-making.

Asaad Saleh | Lebanon

Asaad Saleh from Lebanon portrays with a keen eye and great kindness the lives of Lebanese pastoralists.

Asaad’s enthusiasm for photography has always been driven by his love for nature and Lebanon’s beautiful and rich landscapes. In addition to the Lebanese National Museum 360 project, Asaad has worked on projects for The Holy Spirit University of Kaslik (USEK), École supérieure des affaires (Beirut), Byblos Sud Village, and many more.

Turkey’s best known pastoral nomads are Yörüks, a general term for nomads in Turkish. Today, most of the Yörüks are settled but one group, the Sarakeçililer, migrate seasonally from the Mediterranean coast inland towards Middle Anatolia with their goat herds. The Sarakeçililer is an indigenous group believed to be descendants of Oghuz Turkiq tribes of Middle Asia, who migrated to Anatolia in the 11th century. However, the Yörük culture may well be a much older tradition. Their way of life is an amazing example of how people can really live in harmony with nature.

Bariş Koca | Turkey

Bariş Koca began taking photographs in 2001 while he was working as an engineer. His semi-professionally career began by taking photographs for “Yolculuk (Travel) Magazine”. Since 2008 he has devoted himself fully to photography, especially in the field of nature. Some of his projects include: running nature photography workshops and courses; contributing to various magazines including National Geographic Turkey.

Owning a photograph album named “The Wild at the City – Eymir & Mogan”, he continues videography and photography works at the Kure Film Production.

In the Iberian Peninsula the practice of transhumance is some 6,000 years old, with Neolithic pastoralists following the ancient paths traced over millions of years by wild herbivores. The long distance between southern valleys and northern mountains, about 500 Km of plains that are extremely cold in winter and very dry and hot in summertime, forces the herds to travel four or five weeks in spring, and the same period back in autumn. Each herd is led normally by five people, each with one shepherd dog to handle the livestock, and five defence dogs to protect the herd against wolves and bears. A vast network of drover roads, 125,000 Km long with a total area of over 400,000 hectares, links together the different Spanish regions. Today transhumance in the Iberian Peninsula is being revived – a revival which is welcomed and celebrated by the people of Spain.

Gema Arrugaeta | Spain

Gema Arrugaeta’s wonderful photos portray the noble Spanish practice of transhumance.

Gema Arrugaeta is a professional photographer who lives in natural surroundings in the mountains of Navarre. Throughout her career she has collaborated with different specialist magazines such as National Geographic, Altair and Integral. She manages her own photographic archive that at present includes 140,000 photographs taken throughout her professional photography career and from around the world – but above all, from Spain.

The practice of traditional pastoralism is deeply embedded in the life-ways of the people of Pindos, and particularly of the communities of Vlachs and Sarakatsans. For both groups transhumant pastoralism has been an outward expression of their cultural identity and its continuity through several centuries. However, this important element of their very distinct culture not only has been threatened by the abandonment of the mountainous areas during WWII and the Greek Civil War, but also by the decline of traditional pastoralism practices due to the restrictions posed by EU legislations.

Stamos Abatis | Greece

Stamos Abatis is a freelance photographer and multimedia expert from Greece with competencies in documentary photography, gigapixel and 360° cinematography and video editing.

His professional photography projects include: 2006 – Travelling in Burma (documentary photography), 2010 to present – Ordinary people (black and white photos), 2011 to present – Landscape photography (photographic studies of landscapes using Gigapixel panoramic techniques and 360° x 180° spherical photography techniques).

Transhumance in Tunisia takes many shapes and forms – but it is still very much alive and central to rural and desert culture in the country. Unlike neighbouring Morocco, relatively little is known about the state of the practice today in Tunisia, and much less about its links with biodiversity… In central and southern Tunisia the ways of the camel transhumance conserve biodiversity because: they move over large surfaces in search of food; they only take part of each plant; and their hooves are soft and have less disturbance than other animals. The nomadic life of the desert herders is hard – but beautiful and fascinating at the same time.

Wassim Ghozlani | Tunisia

Wassim Ghozlani is a professional photographer who lives and works in Tunis. His themes often incorporate reflections relating to the world around us and the people who live in it.

Wassim Ghozlani’s photographs have been exhibited in the Arab World Institute (Paris, France), at the White Box Gallery (New York, USA), at Puerta al Mediterráneo Festival (Aragon, Spain), the Meetings Bamako (Bamako, Mali), the Atrium Gallery (London, England), the Matilha Cultural (São Paulo, Brazil), the National Liberation Museum (Maribor, Slovenia) and the Palace of the Baron D’Erlanger (Sidi-Bou Said, Tunisia).

The practice of transhumance in Morocco has played a critical role in creating and maintaining outstanding landscapes of aesthetic beauty and functionality. It is in Morocco that most studies have been done in terms of linking transhumance and the maintenance and enhancement of biodiversity. Scientists underline all the particularly beneficial effects of this practice on vegetation and the conservation of local biodiversity by respectively offering two periods of biological rest to the two portions of its territory of displacement (plain and mountain). Despite threats to the practice and a diminishing respect for customary law, it remains a key element of traditional rural culture.

Younes Tazi | Morocco

Bekkar Younes (known in the photography world as Younes Tazi), is a professional photographer from Taza, Morocco.

Since 2006 his activity has been divided between his profession, agronomy, and his passion for photography. His self-education in the arts has long highlighted the beauty of his subjects. During his various trips between Morocco and abroad, he has been able to collaborate on several exhibitions as part of a partnership between the Association of young Moroccan photographers and HP multinational, and he is currently preparing several exhibition projects (including colonial Orientalist pictures and agriculture).