We first met Pavel Martianez at our Future Leaders Summit in 2012, where he was a participant and aspiring photographer. Earlier this year he contacted us with an exciting prospect: to support his photo exhibition showing mining conflict in the Amazon for the Congress of the Republic of Peru in Lima, the most important decision-making body in the country.

We caught up with Pavel after his photo exhibition to find out more. Here’s what he had to say:

“It’s thanks to my parents that I got to know the Amazon, and it’s thanks to my son that I got to know photography. My parents moved from Cusco to Madre de Dios in search of a better future, and I’m raising my son here, documenting him growing up through my camera lens. And so my camera became part of my body, and I learned to communicate through images.

Long before that, seeing the environmental damage and poverty that surrounded me led to an interest in social activism, which was rewarded and reinforced when I was selected to participate in Wild Forest and Fauna’s Future Leaders program. It was at the Future Leaders Summit, when I met the other young local participants, that I realized I wasn’t alone in dreaming of a sustainable future for my region, and that my efforts to make that happen would be amplified by theirs.

It’s been four years since then, and I know that my photo exhibition ‘Amazonia Profunda’ (Depths of the Amazon) is a result of all I’ve learned through these experiences. It features 25 images captured over numerous visits to mining villages that show the environmental and social consequences of informal gold mining in Madre de Dios. They reveal an Amazon in constant combat: the hard reality of vulnerable communities living in poverty, the conflicts that rise over ownership of natural resources, and the dark economic interests that rule over the gold, man and the Earth itself.

New exhibitions are just around the corner, and I’m happy. It’s too late to be pessimistic, we’ve got too much to do. There are still so many photos to be taken, so many dreams to make a reality.

‘Amazonia Profunda’ ran at the Peruvian Congress from August 10-18, and again at the Jose Pio Aza Cultural Centre from October 24 to November 9.