Road to ruin

Javier Lafuente's Image

Javier illustrates the disregard we show for the natural world with his aerial shot of an artificially straight tarmac road slicing through this wetland landscape.

The Odiel Marshes, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, are the second largest wetland in southern Spain and the country's most important tidal wetland. The area where the mouths of the Odiel and Tinto rivers meet is home to more than a hundred species of birds including flamingos, spoonbills, hoopoes and black-winged stilts, with ospreys and bee-eaters among many migratory visitors.

The road was constructed in the 1980s and is mostly used to provide access to a beach. It divides the wetland reserve in two and has altered the drainage of the tidal marshes and lagoons while disturbing the wildlife that lives there.

Wetland ecosystems are important carbon sinks, and the fragmentation and destruction of these landscapes around the world is greatly reducing our ability to fight climate breakdown.

Coastal wetlands also act as an important buffer zone to protect human populations from storm surges and wave and wind power. As our climate becomes less and less stable, we will need this protection even more.

How you can help

  • Talk to your friends and family about the importance of wetlands in maintaining a healthy climate.
  • Use and protect the green spaces near you. The more we value our local natural areas, the more they will be protected.
  • Consider your impact as a tourist. Visit nature reserves that are protecting their ecosystem and try to support sustainable tourism.

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Behind the lens

Javier Lafuente

Javier Lafuente


Javier is an amateur nature photographer from Spain. His passion for wildlife - going to the countryside and trying to capture what he saw and felt - led him to nature photography. He still enjoys documentary photography, but now he also brings a more personal and creative approach to nature. Most of his photographic work, both documentary and creative, is done in his native country.

Image details

  • DJI Mavic 2 Pro
  • Hasselblad L1D-20c
  • 1/500 sec at f2.8 (+0.3 e/v)  •   ISO 100
Copyright in WPY competition photographs remains the property of the respective photographers. You may not copy, share, reproduce or republish the photographs except as expressly permitted by copyright law. For media image usage enquiries, please contact us.

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