Five years ago, I left the comfort zone of my life with dual residency in Austria and Germany to understand and document the refugee crisis in Europe.
Instead, the hemp plant continuously thwarted my plan. In short time, I realized that the plant can alleviate human suffering. Hemp can shelter, nourish, heal and clothe human beings.
In order to continue to work professionally while traveling, I made my car a rolling home and office. This allowed me to explore the benefits of minimalism and a nomadic lifestyle. Through self-experimentation, I discovered the importance of a solid social foundation for humanity.
Preserving planetary boundaries while meeting the basic needs of all living beings brought me to the structure of Kate Raworth’s Doughnut Economy. By applying this to hemp, the plants true potential revealed. It can create a system reset, in order to mitigate the damages of our modern economies by introducing a circular economy.
Among the possible ecological solutions that hemp can contribute in mitigating the climate crisis, raw material for paper production is one of them. This can protect forests, which are necessary as carbon sinks and important ecosystems for the protection of species and the survival of indigenous cultures.
Over the past four years, I have documented the global rediscovery of industrial hemp around the world. In total, I have photographed more than 200 projects, interviewed more than 80 industry experts, and traveled to a total of 26 countries. Currently, I am working on completing my book, which shows how hemp can be used to mitigate the climate crisis, but also chronicles my personal journey of awakening to its ecological impact.
For this work, I have spent a lot of time in Scandinavia, investigating the issues of forestry, peat mining and energy production. In doing so, I have been working closely with different Sami communities since 2018, who have helped me understand the threatening connections between their survival and rule-breaking industries.
Since November, a dispute has flared up in the northern Swedish interior between the Sami community of Luokta Mavas and the largest, state-owned forest owner, Sveaskog.
The internationally known singer and activist, Sofia Jannok, together with 29 Sami communities has launched a campaign to stop the company’s clear-cutting and to protect the reindeer’s winter pastures.
Initial successes have been achieved and the planned clear-cutting of approximately 700 hectares of boreal old-growth forest has been stopped. Unfortunately, this does not mean that the fight has been won, because after 60 years of clear-cutting, 71% of the lichen-rich forests have already been lost and the forestry companies are not willing to stop this climate-damaging practice.
The photographer supports the #LuoktaMavas movement with her means, she will report on the importance of these ancient forests in a social media campaign and launch a benefit sale of a limited edition of two photographs. 30% of the proceeds will go to Sofia Jannok’s organization Arvas Foundation for the continuation of the fight against clearcutting.