Sand dune in the heart of vegetation on Fraser island, Queensland, Australia. Fraser Island, named after Eliza Fraser, who was shipwrecked on the island in 1836, is the world’s largest sand island. On top of this rather infertile substratum, a humid tropical forest has developed in the midst of which wide dunes intrude, moving with the wind. Fraser Island has important water resources, including nearly 200 freshwater dune lakes, and has varied fauna such as marsupials, birds, and reptiles. Welcoming 200,000 visitors a year without damaging the local fauna and flora is a real challenge to sustainable development on the island, which was declared a World Heritage site by Unesco in 1992.
Confluence of the Rio Uruguay and a tributary, Misiones province, Argentina. Drastically cleared to make way for farming, the tropical rainforest of Argentina is now in some areas a less effective defense against erosion than it was in the past. The heavy rains in the province of Misiones (79 inches, per year) wash the soil and carry off significant quantities of iron-rich earth into the Rio Uruguay, turning the waters a dark, reddish color. Carried by the river, this sediment is dumped in the estuary of the Rio de la Plata – the largest on Earth – and accumulates in the access channels to the port of Buenos Aires.
Village in the Rheris Valley, Er Rachidia region, High Atlas Mountains, Morocco. Fortified villages are frequently seen along the valley of the Rheris, as they are on most rivers of southern Morocco, inspired by the Berber architecture built to protect against invaders. Today, with the threat of raids now gone, the close clustering of dwellings, small windows, and roofs covering houses and narrow streets serve the purpose of protecting occupants from heat and dust. The flat, connecting roofs also provide a place for drying crops.
Tsingy of Bemaraha, Morondava region, Madagascar. A Nature reserve covering 853 square kilometers, it was established as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1990.
Village on stilts in Tongkil, Samales Islands, Philippines. The southern Philippines, and in particular the Sulu Archipelago that includes the Samales Islands, is home to the Badjaos. The Badjaos belong to a Muslim minority who make up 5 percent of the Philippine population and are concentrated mostly in the south of the country. Known as “sea gypsies”, they fish and harvest shellfish and pearl oysters, and they live in villages on stilts. A channel carved out of the coral reef allows them to reach the open sea.
Islet in the Sulu Archipelago, Philippines. More than 6,000 of the 7,100 Philippine Islands are uninhabited, like this islet in the Sulu Archipelago, a set of 500 islands that separate the Celebes and the Sulu seas. Their extraordinary biodiversity is under threat, not from distant industrial sites but from the effects of global pollution. These islands, which barely rise above the surface of the water, are among the first potential victims of global warming and are certain to disappear when the sea level rises.
A whale swims off the Valdes peninsula, Argentina. After summering in the Arctic, whales return to the southern seas each winter to reproduce. From July to November, whales mate and bear their young along the coasts of the Valdes Peninsula in Argentina. Until the 1950s, this migratory marine mammal was extensively hunted for its meat and the oil extracted from its fat, which brought it to the edge of extinction. Protective measures were adopted after international attention was focused on the problem in 1937. In 1982 a moratorium was declared on whale hunting for commercial purposes, and in 1994 the southern seas became a whale sanctuary. After decades of protection, 7 of the 13 whale species, of which only a few thousand remain (10 to 60 times fewer than in the early 20th century), are still endangered.
American cemetery north of Verdun, Meuse, France. Covering some 40 hectares (100 acres) at Romagne-sous-Montfaucon, 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Verdun, the American cemetery was dedicated in 1935 by the American Battle Monuments Commission. The commission was created in 1923 at the request of General Pershing, who had taken part in the American offensive of 1918. Its aim was to undertake architectural and landscape studies in order to restructure American cemeteries and commemorative monuments in Europe. Whereas the French army chose to build permanent cemeteries where temporary cemeteries had been made during the hostilities, the American army opted to create a single cemetery. Some 25,000 American tombs scattered around Verdun were then brought together at Romagne where, after almost half the bodies were repatriated to American soil, 14,246 soldiers have lain ever since.
source & more photos: http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2008/10/earth_from_above_comes_to_nyc.html