A culture at risk

Ten years ago, the province of East New Britain in Papua New Guinea was heavily forested. Over 98% of its primary forest was still intact. Now, however, increased logging – to clear land for oil palm plantations – has exacerbated the loss of forest cover. Before 2008, the area lost each year was around 3,600 hectares. But deforestation has increased exponentially over the last 20 years. Nearly 20,000 hectares are now sacrificed every year. In all, it is estimated that New Britain lost 10% of its tree cover between 2001 and 2020 – nearly 60% of which is considered to be primary forest.

Photographer Ulla Lohmann is well with New Britain, so named because the island was discovered in 1700 by British explorer William Dampier. She first went there in 2001, on her first trip to the region, and immediately fell in love with the landscapes, the volcanoes that dot the land, the people (Austronesians and Papuans) and the traditional cultures that subsist there. As part of a photographic commission from the Yves Rocher Foundation on the final sanctuaries of biodiversity, she returned there to document the upheavals weakening its ecosystem and endangering an ancestral way of life. “The diversity of life is evident everywhere you look, both on land, in the primary forests teeming with as yet unknown species, and underwater, with some of the richest coral reefs on the planet,” explains the German photographer.

The exhibition takes us on a thrilling adventure into the Nakanai mountains and to the majestic volcanoes of the Bismarck archipelago, offering a taste of far-off lands, worlds away from Brittany or Britain. Yet, the themes of nature preservation and environmental safeguarding are just as relevant there as they are in our regions.


In partnership with the Yves Rocher Foundation, which funded this project as part of its “In the Name of Biodiversity” photography campaign.

Logo Fondation Yves Rocher

© Ulla Lohmann for Yves Rocher Foundation • Exhibition New Britain and the people of the volcanoes