The Nature Conservancy have just unveiled the winners of their 2022 photo contest, and the images are a breathtaking reminder of both the incredible beauty of nature and how much we stand to lose as a result of the climate crisis.


This year’s competition had the largest global participation ever, with entries from 196 different countries and territories across six different categories. Winning images were selected by a panel of judges that included renowned conservation photographer Ami Vitale, and Coyote Peterson, host of YouTube’s Brave Wilderness.

The 2022 Grand Prize went to photographer Li Ping in China, who captured a drone’s eye view of a lonely highway in Tibet, bordered on each side by gullies extending outward in the shape of a tree.

Overall winner

Dry riverbed off the highway in Tibet
On either side of an empty highway, a dry riverbed stretches out like a tree in Tibet, an autonomous region in southwest China. Photograph by Li Ping/Courtesy TNC Photo Contest 2022

Plants and fungi category winner

Mushrooms glow green at night on tree truncks
Nicknamed ghost mushrooms due to their eerie green glow, the scientific name of these bioluminescent mushrooms is Omphalotus Nidiformis. The glow is very much visible to the naked eyes in complete darkness. Finding and photographing them can be challenging as they grow and glow for only a few weeks each year. Photo by Callie Chee/Courtesy TNC Photo Contest 2022

Landscape category winner

Mount Adi in Navarra Spain
The slope of Mount Adi, in Navarra, Spain. The low temperatures of early March have turned the trees white with frost. Photo by Francisco Javier Munuera González/Courtesy TNC Photo Contest 2022

Nature category winner

A pair of lions walking side-by-side
A pair of lions work together to stalk an impala in the Maasai Mara, Kenya, in November 2021. The lion on the right is distinctly older than its youthful companion. Photo by Anup Shah/Courtesy TNC Photo Contest 2022

People and nature category winner

A couple dry off on a beach with a factory behind them
This couple dries off on a beach in Ammoudara, Crete, Greece, with the unusual sight of a large factory looming behind them. Photo by Janusz Jurek/Courtesy TNC Photo Contest 2022

Water category winner

An aerial view of river sediment in Iceland
Brightly coloured sediment paints the Icelandic landscape as it flows towards the ocean. The glacial river, Þjórsá, is the longest river in Iceland, originating at Hofsjökull glacier and meandering 230km to the Atlantic Ocean. The aerial perspective provided by a small airplane, reveals the bright and varied coloured sediment tracing the river's path towards the ocean. Photo by Kristin Wright/Courtesy TNC Photo Contest 2022

Climate category winner

Fan-throated Lizard with windmills in the background
A vibrant fan-throated Lizard (Sarada superba) stands guard over his territory. This lizard was photographed on the Chalkewadi plateau in the Satara district of India, which is the site of one of the largest wind farms in this region. Researchers believe that windmills may affect predator behaviour giving a chance for these tiny lizards to thrive on this rocky plateau. Photo by Sandesh Kadur/Courtesy TNC Photo Contest 2022

People and nature honourable mention

Varadero beach Cuba with huge cloud and lightning
People start to leave as a huge storm cloud approaches Varadero beach, Cuba, with lightning visible in the background. Photo by Giovani Cordioli/Courtesy TNC Photo Contest 2022

Nature category honourable mention

A giraffe bends over to drink
A low-angled shot of a giraffe drinking at a waterhole, accompanied by an oxpecker. Photographed at Zimanga Private Game Reserve, South Africa. Photo by Jenny Zhao/Courtesy TNC Photo Contest 2022

More images from Science Focus:


Landscape category runner-up

Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park with lightning
The Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Indonesia. In this image, Mount Bromo has been illuminated by a lightning storm. Photo by Hendy Wicaksono/Courtesy TNC Photo Contest 2022

Coyote Peterson judge's choice winner

Female polar bear breast-feeding by an abandoned factory
A female polar bear breastfeeds her two cubs in a harbour of the abandoned settlement of Pyramiden, Russia. Polar bears often roam amongst these abandoned structures, even though they are filled with potentially hazardous materials. Photo by Florian Ledoux/Courtesy TNC Photo Contest 2022

Climate category runner-up

A person cleaning an unknown lake of excessive sea vegetation that has grown due to high temperatures, as well as the dumping of waste. Photographed in India. Photo by Amish Jain/Courtesy TNC Photo Contest 2022

Water category runner-up

Aerial view of salt mines in Yucatan Mexico
The pink lagoons of Las Coloradas salt mines in Yucatan. This area is one of the most important salt-generating plants in Mexico. They directly adjoin the Río Lagartos natural park, which is also an important site for the American flamingo. Photo by Nick Leopold Sordo/Courtesy TNC Photo Contest 2022

People and nature category runner-up

A fisherman gathers his catches
A fisherman sorts his day's catch in his tangled nets in the village of Kedonganan, Bali. Photo by Komang Arnawa/Courtesy TNC Photo Contest 2022

Wildlife category runner-up

Elephant surrounded by dust
The African dust surrounds an African elephant (Loxodonta) in Namibia. Photo by Panos Laskarakis/Courtesy TNC Photo Contest 2022


James CutmorePicture Editor, BBC Science Focus

James Cutmore is the picture editor of BBC Science Focus Magazine, researching striking images for the magazine and on the website. He is also has a passion for taking his own photographs