The living reservoir

Alessandro Gruzza's Image

Alessandro Gruzza (Italy) highlights the beauty and value of cushion plants in the Andean peat wetlands.

Struggling with low oxygen levels, Alessandro used a graduated camera filter to balance the light near the snow-capped volcanic cone of Parinacota in the Andes.

Cushion plants, the predominant flora in this environment, slow water run-off and therefore soil loss. Studies have also shown that they also help to form peat and that they store carbon at a higher rate than almost any other plant found at high elevations.

Known as bofedal, this type of Andean peat wetland is found at very cold and dry altitudes and is dependent on meltwater from glaciers. Rising global temperatures mean that glaciers are diminishing, threatening the survival of these fragile wetlands, as well as the species that depend on them.

Behind the lens

Alessandro Gruzza

Alessandro Gruzza


Alessandro was raised in the foothills of Italy's Dolomites and even from an early age appreciated nature. He became a professional photographer in 2013 and in 2018 founded Munay Publishing. In addition to publishing several books, Alessandro has also won many awards in photography competitions and staged multiple exhibitions. His photographs are permanently displayed at the Centrum Jana Pawla II in Krakow, Poland.

Image details

  • Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • 21mm f2.8 lens
  • 1/8 sec at f14  •   ISO 100  •   3-stop ND graduated filter  •   tripod
  • Chungarà Lake, Lauca National Park, Chile
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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