The Tree of Life: Nature Conservation Photo Contest Winners

The Nature Conservancy has just revealed the winners of its 2022 photography competition, and the images are a compelling reminder of both the incredible beauty of nature and how much we stand to lose as a result of the climate crisis.

This year’s competition had the largest global participation ever, with entries from 196 different countries and regions in six different categories. The winning images were selected by a panel of judges that included renowned conservation photographer Ami Vitale and Coyote Peterson, YouTube host of Brave Wilderness.

The 2022 Grand Prize went to photographer Li Ping in China, who captured a drone shot on a lonely highway in Tibet, bordered on each side by ravines that stretch out in the shape of a tree.

Overall winner

On either side of an empty highway, a dry riverbed stretches out like a tree in Tibet, an autonomous region in southwest China. Photo by Li Ping/Courtesy TNC Photo Contest 2022

Winner in the Plants and Fungi category

Mushrooms glow green at night on tree trunks

Nicknamed ghost mushrooms because of their eerie green glow, the scientific name of these bioluminescent mushrooms is Omphalotus Nidiformis. The glow is very visible to the naked eye in total darkness. Finding and photographing them can be difficult as they only grow and shine for a few weeks each year. Photo by Callie Chee/Courtesy TNC Photo Contest 2022

Landscape category winner

Mount Adi in Navarre Spain

The slope of Mount Adi, in Navarre, Spain. The cold temperatures of early March have left the trees white with frost. Photo by Francisco Javier Munuera González/Courtesy TNC Photo Contest 2022

Winner in the Nature category

A pair of lions walking side by side

A pair of lions work together to stalk an impala in the Maasai Mara, Kenya, in November 2021. The lion on the right is clearly larger than its young mate. Photo by Anup Shah/Courtesy TNC Photo Contest 2022

Winner in the People and Nature category

A couple dried off on a beach with a factory behind them

This couple dries off on a beach in Ammoudara, Crete, with the unusual sight of a large factory behind them. Photo by Janusz Jurek/Courtesy TNC Photo Contest 2022

Water category winner

An aerial view of river sediment in Iceland

A brightly colored sediment paints the Icelandic landscape as it flows towards the ocean. The glacial river, Þjórsá, is the longest river in Iceland, originating from the Hofsjökull glacier and meandering 230 kilometers into the Atlantic Ocean. The aerial perspective provided by a small plane reveals the bright and varied colored sediment that follows the course of the river towards the ocean. Photo by Kristin Wright/Courtesy TNC Photo Contest 2022

Climate category winner

Fan lizard with windmills in the background

A lively fan lizard (Sarada superba) guards its territory. This lizard was photographed on the Chalkewadi plateau in the Satara district of India, which is the site of one of the largest wind farms in that region. The researchers believe that the windmills may influence predator behavior by giving these tiny lizards the opportunity to thrive on this rocky plateau. Photo by Sandesh Kadur/Courtesy TNC Photo Contest 2022

People and nature honorable mention

Varadero Cuba beach with huge cloud and lightning

People begin to flee as a huge storm cloud approaches Varadero Beach, Cuba, with lightning visible in the background. Photo by Giovani Cordioli/Courtesy TNC Photo Contest 2022

Honorable mention in the nature category

A giraffe bends down to drink

A low angle shot of a giraffe drinking at a water hole, accompanied by an ox. Photographed at Zimanga Private Game Reserve, South Africa. Photo by Jenny Zhao/Courtesy TNC Photo Contest 2022

More images from Science:

Runner-up landscape category

Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park with lightning

Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Indonesia. In this image, Mount Bromo has been illuminated by a lightning storm. Photo by Hendy Wicaksono/Courtesy TNC Photo Contest 2022

Judge’s Choice Winner Coyote Peterson

Female polar bear nursing from an abandoned factory

A female polar bear nurses her two cubs at a harbor in the abandoned settlement of Pyramiden, Russia. Polar bears often roam among these abandoned structures, even though they are filled with potentially hazardous materials. Photo by Florian Ledoux/Courtesy TNC Photo Contest 2022

Runner-up in the climate category

Man cleaning unidentified lake from excessive marine vegetation that has grown due to high temperatures as well as dumping of waste. Photographed in India. Photo by Amish Jain/Courtesy TNC Photo Contest 2022

Water category runner-up

Aerial view of salt mines in Yucatan, Mexico

The pink lagoons of the Las Coloradas salt mines in the Yucatan. This area is one of the most important salt production plants in Mexico. They directly border the Río Lagartos Natural Park, which is also an important site for the American flamingo. Photo by Nick Leopold Sordo/Courtesy TNC Photo Contest 2022

Runner-up category People and Nature

A fisherman collects his catch

A fisherman sorts his day’s catch into his tangled nets in the village of Kendonganan, Bali. Photo by Komang Arnawa/Courtesy TNC Photo Contest 2022

Runner-up wildlife category

Elephant surrounded by dust

African dust surrounds an African elephant (Loxodonta) in Namibia. Photo Panos Laskarakis/Courtesy TNC Photo Contest 2022

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