Documenting climate change in National Parks Photography Competition 2021 – winners revealed! 

21 October 2021

Stark images of extreme weather, wildlife in decline and pollution were accompanied by images of hope and nature recovery in Campaign for National Parks’ (CNP) Photography Competition 2021. 

Following the release of CNP’s National Parks and the Climate Emergency report in June and in the run up to COP26, this year’s competition focused on documenting climate change in National Parks, attracting entries from National Parks across England and Wales, showing both the impact of climate change and the work underway to address this. 

Main award winner

Exmoor-based photographer Shaun Davey won over the judges with his stunning image of sunset on Porlock Marsh in Exmoor National Park to be crowned the overall winner.  

"Porlock Marsh is a salt marsh on the Exmoor coast,” said Shaun. “The marsh is only 25 years old; it was previously agricultural land. It was formed when Exmoor National Park Authority and the National Trust took the controversial decision to ‘let nature take its course’ when the shingle ridge protecting the area from the sea was breached in a storm in 1996.  

“The marsh is now a haven for wildlife and a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and an outstanding location for photographers, walkers and birdwatchers. The image shows a sunset across the flooded marsh at high tide - the breach is clearly visible beyond the more distant tree.” 

The judging panel, made up of CNP Chief Executive Rose O’Neill, Digital Photographer Magazine Editor Lauren Scott, National Geographic Traveller UK Picture Editor Olly Puglisi and National Parks photographer and previous winner Kieran Metcalfe, were unanimous in their decision. They praised both the technical brilliance of the photo – composition and lighting – and the powerful story it was sharing, one which perfectly illustrates the role that nature recovery has to play in the climate crisis. 

Highly commended

Deborah Clarke, with her photo of a curlew in the foothills of Penhill, West Witton, Yorkshire Dales National Park – an under-threat red-listed species now thriving thanks to sustainable farming in the area. Find out more about the impact of climate change on the curlew here.

Jon Roberts, with his photo of flooded fields in Derwent Water in Lake District National Park, were highly commended as runners-up in the main category.  Flooding is just one type of extreme weather experienced in Lake District National Park and linked to climate change, find out more here.

Young Photographer of the Year

The Young Photographer of the Year award went to Fletcher Foot, aged 14, for his image of a stonechat on dried gorse in New Forest National Park. Colder temperatures are impacting stonechat numbers.

Fletcher said: “Stonechat breeding numbers are down in the New Forest, one of the impacts of climate change. You can see the dried gorse which it is perched on - a further impact of climate change. Hotter temperatures are affecting the number and range of species and it alters their seasonal activity. It is only going to get worse if we don’t act straight away.” 

Runners-up were Eliza Read and April Francis with their images from Brecon Beacons National Park in Wales.

People's Choice: Best Phone Photo

A public vote completed by hundreds of people returned Peak District photographer Simon Walkden as the winner of the People’s Choice Phone Photo category with his image of Hope Valley in Peak District National Park, with Hope Cement Works visible in the distance; it emits more than 1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions a year. However, in the past 20 years the British cement industry has reduced carbon emissions by more than 25% and has pledged to continue to take steps to help the UK to achieve its carbon reduction targets. Find out more.

Simon said: "I wanted to select an image which met the brief (climate change), but also showcased what beautiful landscape we have within our national parks. Hopefully both messages came across in the photo. I think all forms of visual media are incredibly important in making people aware of the impact of climate change on our planet."

The runner-up images for the People's Choice Phone Photo award both depicted weather extremes, the kind we’re likely to see more of due to climate change. 

Runners-up

In second place was Tony Watson’s wide-angle picture of water shortages at Haweswater in Lake District National Park, which he shared on Twitter with a powerful call to action to act now. Extreme weather proving more common in the National Park.

In third place was Cara Organ’s beautiful photo of unusually heavy snow at Carlton Bank in the Cleveland Hills in North York Moors National Park, shared via Instagram using the #CNPPhotoComp21 hashtag.

Editor of Digital Photographer Magazine, which partnered with CNP for this year’s competition, Lauren Scott added: “This year's entries were both uplifting and powerful, celebrating the beauty of National Parks in England and Wales, but also showing us the impacts of climate change firsthand. I loved the variety in imagery, and how each photographer had so carefully considered the story they wanted to tell.”

You can view all of the shortlisted images here.

CNP Chief Executive Rose O’Neill said: “National Parks are critical to tackling the climate emergency. These photos illustrate what’s at stake if we don’t act, as well as giving hope in using nature as part of the solution. This is why Campaign for National Parks is calling on the Government to amend legislation to ensure National Parks have the powers and the resources to play this critical role.” 

To find out more about the work Campaign for National Parks is doing around climate change, please sign up to our mailing list HERE or follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn.