Insta-traffic Takes Toll
Environmental message lost as Insta-traffic takes toll on Tasmania's natural wonders
Posted on 22.01.2018
The sharing of stunning photos on social media is becoming a destructive force as Instagram trophy hunters beat a path to Tasmania’s natural gems, warns professional photographer Jason Futrill.
Futrill said waterfalls and alpine areas were being trampled underfoot by Instagrammers seeking to claim their own version of shots they’ve admired online.
And, as he is the first to admit, Futrill has been part of the problem — some of the degradation he has witnessed has been a direct result of his own photos being widely shared.
In a blog post, he called for photographers, tourism accounts and travel websites to reflect on their own impact and take more responsibility for the conservation of the photos they post and share.
Futrill described a chain of events starting with ego-massaging reactions to a nice photo, followed by requests for the location, followed by a travel account sharing the photo with a multiplier effect, followed by a swelling number of people sharing it or adding it to their Tasmanian itinerary or weekend wish list.
Before long, a stream of snappers and bushwalkers will be beating a path to that (often fragile) location.
The process prompted Futrill to ask:
“Are we slowly but surely causing some of the most beautiful, previously out-of-reach, unknown and hard-to-find locations to die a slow [or in some cases, a very, very quick] death?”
Once, before Instagram, before the internet even, the stunning landscape photos of Peter Dombrovskis sold the Tasmanian wilderness as a public asset to be protected.
In particular, his photos helped make Australia care about the fate of the Franklin River as the prospect of damming it loomed in the early 1980s.
Futrill said such a strong environmental conscience was missing from Instagram’s follow-me culture.
Added to that was a false sense of accessibility to isolated and precarious locations
Thousands of photos are tagged #discovertasmania or #tassiestyle, leaving Tourism Tasmania spoiled for choice when it comes to beautiful images to inspire someone to visit.
The images serve to promote the location as a destination while boosting the personal account of the source photographer — a promotional win-win.
When asked what consideration Tourism Tasmania puts into the environmental impact of increased foot traffic to areas it promotes, a spokesperson replied:
“We consider a number of elements when selecting images for reposting, that show a range of travel experiences to appeal to a broad range of travellers, interests and activity levels, including a spread of images from across Tasmania’s regions,” they said.
Ethical Photo Guide
Whether or not other Instagram photographers or tourism groups adopt a similar practice to Mr Futrill remains to be seen.
But as the hunt to capture Tasmania’s scenic treasures is not about to stop, one group has taken action to try and limit the damage. Natural Resource Management South has published a guide: Ethical Nature Photography in Tasmania. The guide’s final section is devoted to “social media culture”. Point three in their tips on the subject reads:
“If you are going to share images of nature online, consider using them as a platform to raise awareness about nature conservation and threats to the subject of your photos.”
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