Photographs from World Heritage sites in Alberta, Canada, are featured in a new book by J. Ashley Nixon, published to coincide with two exhibitions in the 2022 Exposure Photography Festival in Calgary.
World Heritage sites attract us
We visit them and are inspired by their aesthetic beauty, conservation value and cultural significance. They provide us with places to look and reflect on life, share moments and conversations in settings that, for the majority of people, are removed from our usual, increasingly urban existence. Generally, we feel we are in a good place. Our well-being benefits from these episodes encountering nature in mountains, forests and other landscapes, or our contact with artifacts and monuments that stand in tribute to the efforts and creativity of our ancestors.
World Heritage sites support us
Our understanding of the past exhibited in archaeological and culturally significant sites help us to deal with changes in the future; their ecosystem services provide food, water and other resources that help our social and economic development.
UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre lists over one thousand World Heritage Sites. Each one is recognized for its Outstanding Universal Value, that is, “cultural and/or natural significance which is so exceptional as to transcend national boundaries and to be of common importance for present and future generations of all humanity.” There are twenty World Heritage Sites in Canada, including Writing-on-Stone/ Áísínai’pi Provincial Park, Dinosaur Provincial Park, Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, Waterton Glacier International Peace Park and the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks.
World Heritage sites need our action
When the UNESCO Member States adopted the World Heritage Convention in 1972, climate change had not been recognized as a concern for the natural World Heritage Sites. In 2020, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) declared that it is now their biggest threat.
The rate of retreat of mountain glaciers around the world has accelerated due to climate change. It is affecting the geographical distribution of species and ecosystem functioning, such as phenology (the timing of biological events like flowering). The intensity, frequency and seasonality of extreme events such as forest fires, flooding and drought have become a significant concern.
Visit the exhibitions
Photographs from the book World Heritage are featured in two concurrent exhibitions by members of Exposure Studio Collective during January-February 2022 at neighbouring venues in Crescent Heights, Calgary. The Sought x Found exhibition is at the coffee shop with the same name located on Centre Street, just a short walk north from the main entrance to Rotary Park, where In Conversation, an outdoor exhibition in a series of six mini-galleries, is taking place. Both exhibitions are part of the 2022 Exposure Photography Festival.
See the book
The black and white images and supporting text explore the cultural and natural significance of five locations in the face of environmental change and the climate crisis: Writing-on-Stone/ Áísínai’pi Provincial Park, Dinosaur Provincial Park, Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, Waterton Glacier International Peace Park and the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks.
You can view and purchase the book from Betula Books (click on the box below).