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When humans and nature come together

Photos: Lucas Foglia

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Photographer Lucas Foglia has spent years exploring the relationship between people and the natural world around them.

We humans sure have a complicated relationship with nature. We know that it’s vital to our survival  and even good for our health – yet we don’t always seem to be fighting on the same side. As the effects of climate change increase, it’s clear something needs to change.

In the series Human Nature, photographer Lucas Foglia looks at everything from forests to lava flows, and from cityscapes to seascapes – and what they mean to us as people. His images, taken over a period of more than a decade, reveal how far we will go to get closer to nature, and the thin line between our efforts to connect with the natural world, and our efforts to control it.

Can virtual reality reduce stress? In this study at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, subjects take a math test and a simulated job interview, before being placed in a virtual forest with singing birds, while scientists monitor their heart rate to see how quickly they relax.

Esme swims in the balcony pool of a hotel in Singapore, as rush hour traffic builds up on the road below. The hotel contains over 15,000 square metres of greenery, amounting to twice its land area. As one of the world’s most densely populated cities, Singapore is always looking for new ways to squeeze in nature.

Wildfires burn millions of acres of land every year in the United States, and are becoming more common. This photo was taken during a controlled burn conducted by the US Forest Service between fire seasons, to help limit the spread of fires.

Every summer since 1946, researchers have traversed the Juneau Ice Field in Alaska, one of the largest in the world, to keep tabs on changes. If climate trends continue, they expect the ice field to be gone by 2200. Evan, a research assistant, is pictured here sleeping at a camp overlooking the Vaughan Lewis Icefall.

The Kilauea volcano on Hawaii has been erupting continuously since 1983. In 2017 a torrent of molten rock poured out into the ocean. Tourists paid money to see it for themselves on lava boat tours, braving the risk of flaming debris.

The Geysers in California is the world’s largest geothermal field, containing a complex of 22 geothermal power plants that draw steam from more than 350 wells. In this photo, Chuck is taking sample readings.

In California’s Lost Coast, Matt swings from tree to tree. Matt left behind a career in the solar energy industry in Thailand and moved back to the United States, where he spent two years sourcing his clothes, food, tools, and shelter from the wild. He now works for Google X on a renewable energy project, and says he wants to bridge the pre-industrial and modern worlds.

Can spending time in nature help us to think more clearly? That’s the question scientists at the University of Utah are trying to answer in this study. The participant, Kate, wears a cap that scans brain waves, and facial electrodes to record brain activity as she is exposed to the natural environment.

Rachel immerses herself in the communal mud pit at the Twin Oaks Communities Conference in Louisa, Virginia. People from around the world come to the conference to talk about ecovillages, cooperative housing, and how to live closer to nature.

In Sweden, Josh braves the cold to indulge in some winter bathing.

Wind turbines overlook an abandoned farm in Briscoe County, Texas. Water shortages here mean that wind power provides a more consistent income than crops.

In Singapore in 2014, Low and Ng are at work landscaping the first McDonald’s to have a green roof.

New Yorks Rikers Island jail has five organic gardens run by the citys horticultural society, where detainees and prisoners can tend flowers, fruits, and vegetables. Here, Troy holds a guinea fowl chick.

To catch illegal hunters, rangers sometimes need a little help. This stuffed elk, pictured at the offices of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, helps out on occasional sting operations. Rangers place the elk in a mountain valley and wait out of sight to see if anyone tries to shoot it.

Nests made by cliff swallows under a highway overpass in Nevada.

Francisco prepares for boxing practice at the Davey Lopes Recreation Center in Providence, Rhode Island, where local children grow food to give away to people in the neighborhood.

A house being built after a lava flow in Hawaii. The new house replaces an old one in the same location, but which is now buried under six metres of rock.

Main photo: In the Nevada desert, Allie, a writer and teacher, waves to a nearby town.

Discover more

See more of Lucas Foglia’s work, and order the Human Nature book

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