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Charcoal Rush- Light Oriye

Updated: May 6, 2021

Nigerian Photographer and Film-Maker, Light Oriye shed’s light on one of the main causes of deforestation within Nigeria through his project, ‘Charcoal Rush’. Charcoal production is one of the main causes of deforestation within Africa, which in turn is closely linked to a massive decrease in soil quality and a growing risk of crop failure. According to the Food and Agricultural Organisation, Nigeria has lost 50% of its forest cover in two decades and is losing at 5% a year which is the highest in the world. At this rate, experts warn that the country could lose all of its forests by 2047. Light takes a deeper look into this climate issue by photographing a community in Nigeria’s North-Central region called Nasarawa.

“I am really interested in environmental issues and most of the work I have done has been around environment and education. The lockdown helped me to think of a particular area that I am interested in. Whilst looking out for environmental issues I came across deforestation” explains Light. The stark contrast between green vegetation and trees compared to the image of trees that have been cut down and smoke coming from a burnt out fire, illustrates the damage that is being done and the possibilities of what could happen on a larger scale across the country if such activities continue.

“Whilst spending time with the community, I discovered that they do not want to cause climate problems however they are trying to provide for their families through these means due to issues such as herdsmen destroying their farms. They see Charcoal production as an easy way out” says Light. The images of members of the community in action working on the fields enables the viewers to gain an insight on how vigorous the activities are and the strain that it not only has on the environment but on ones body also.

“My advice for those working on environmental issues it to try to be as close to the locals of the community that you are in as much as possible. Another important thing is to explain to those you are photographing the consequences of their actions and the damage it is doing” Light Oriye.

Light Oriye is an Abuja-based Photographer and Filmmaker from Rivers State in Southern Nigeria. Light’s work focuses on environmental advocacy and socioeconomic challenges faced by people in grassroots communities by both amplifying their stories and preserving their cultures through microphones and lenses. To view more of his work, visit his website.

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