Florence Goupil (PE) "Dialogues with Plants" - Helphoto 2023




Dialogues with Plants
Environmental defenders and indigenous healers in Peru are risking their lives to protect their last spiritual connection to the Amazon’s biodiversity and their plant-based knowledge.

The plants breathe, feel and communicate with each other, their environment and animals, using light and other chemical processes. “How do healers manage to find the exact properties when there are 80 thousand species of higher plants in the forest? There is one chance in 6.4 billion to find the right recipe,” says anthropologist Jeremy Narby. The Asháninka, Bora and Matsés healers maintain that their knowledge about the specific use of plants, alone or mixed, is the result of dialogues with the plants themselves—with the spirits of the plants.

Through their recipes, they use the psychoactive chemical that leads them to different states of consciousness. Over hundreds of years, this has provided them with key information on how to survive in the vast territory of the Amazon.

However, extractive activities are destroying their world. In Peru, more than 203,272 hectares of rainforest have been deforested in the last two years, 37% more than in 2019 and rising. Narco traffickers, illegal loggers, miners, and others have taken control of the Amazon natural resources. Since 2020 alone, twenty leaders and environmental defenders have been assassinated. The Amazon indigenous people of Peru are disappearing and, along with them, vital knowledge about the use of the rarest plants.

The moment we become aware of the physical and spiritual connection of indigenous peoples with plants, we will all be able to get involved in its protection. Photography is a legitimate medium to portray their rich cognitive and symbolic relationship with their biodiversity, an archive to celebrate their courage and raise awareness for future generations.

Florence Goupil is a Peruvian photographer and storyteller based in Cusco, Peru. She is a 2020 Explorer and Contributor to National Geographic Society. Raised in an Andean family and nurtured by the stories of their traditions, Florence grew up with the Quechua-Wanka culture. Hence, her deep commitment to issues such as human rights, ethnobotany, the environment, and the living memory of the indigenous peoples of Peru and Latin America. In 2020, she was awarded the Pulitzer Center Rainforest Journalism Fund Grant. In 2023, Goupil was twice granted the Pulitzer Center Dom Phillips Reporting Grant to work in the Brazil-Peru border about uncontacted tribes.


Florence Goupil (PE) "Dialogues with Plants" - Helphoto 2023
Florence Goupil (PE) "Dialogues with Plants" - Helphoto 2023