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  • Writer's pictureLeonardo Merçon

A photographic "dive" into the beauty of rivers in Espírito Santo at the Festival of Waters

On March 23rd, I participated in the Festival das Águas (Water Festival) in Vargem Alta, southern Espírito Santo state.

The event, which aims to promote the appreciation of the main Southern Espírito Santo basin, the Itapemirim River, through cultural actions, cinema, and debates, was organized by Caju Produções and sponsored by Reserva Águia Branca.

During the chat entitled "História das Águas" (Water History), I had the privilege to share my experiences and stories about water around the world, alongside renowned nature photographer Érico Hiller. I addressed the theme "Experiences with the rivers of Espírito Santo, from the Doce River to diving in the Caparaó waterfalls." As the founder of the Last Refuges Institute and a nature photographer, I have dedicated the last 20 years to documenting the biodiversity of Espírito Santo and the importance of rivers for the preservation of life.

I believe that rivers are fundamental for the maintenance of biodiversity, providing water and other resources for all living beings and influencing the water cycle, climate stabilization, and maintenance of water quality. That's why I highlight the beauty of wildlife and seek to show the world the importance of these ecosystems through my work as a nature photographer.

Throughout my career, I have had the opportunity to experience unique experiences in aquatic environments on five continents, from environmental tragedies such as the Doce River to rivers and wetlands in Scotland and China, as well as the biodiversity-rich areas of the Atlantic Forest, Amazon, and Pantanal. I believe that Espírito Santo's rivers are essential for biodiversity maintenance, and it is my mission as a photographer to show the beauty and importance of these ecosystems to the world.

My colleague Érico Hiller was the highlight of the discussion, addressing the theme related to the stories of people from all continents who live in enormous difficulties with the lack of sanitation and access to clean water. As a documentary impact photographer, Hiller presented his recent projects, including the book "ÁGUA" (WATER), which brings a broad overview of stories of people worldwide who face difficulties with the lack of access to clean water.

The Festival das Águas was a unique opportunity to share our experiences and stories about water and the importance of rivers for life. I hope that these discussions can raise awareness among more people about the need to preserve our water resources and ensure a sustainable future for the planet.

If you have not yet checked out my Instagram, click HERE.


Leonardo Merçon has been a nature photographer/documentarist for almost 20 years, focused on nature protection. He studied graphic design at the Federal University of Espírito Santo and photography for publications at the Academy of Media and Arts in Germany, with a full scholarship from DAAD, and currently pursuing a professional master's degree in Biodiversity Conservation at IPÊ/ESCAS. He is the founder/volunteer director of Instituto Últimos Refúgios (a nonprofit environmental organization). He has dozens of printed books and video documentaries published. He works to help tell stories through images in national and international media, such as BBC London and National Geographic Brazil, among others. In 2015, he gave a TEDx Talk in Vitória-ES. He believes in and works on environmental awareness activities (especially with children) and promotes nature-related tourism as a way to inspire people and promote change.


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