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The Earth from the Air
Yann Arthus-Bertrand

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A few years ago a French open air photographic exhibition "La Terre vue du Ciel" ("The Earth from the Air" by the French photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand toured the world.  I saw the exhibition in Paris in the summer 2000, displayed on the iron-forged fences of Jardin du  Luxembourg, and again one year later in Copenhagen.  

Since then it has toured the world, and has also been shown in England, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Italy and many other countries.

France has issued in 2001 a sheetlet "J'aime Ma Terre", showing five of these extraordinary photographs, taken from an airplane in about 5-6 km altitude.  Some of the places depicted have been declared World Nature Reserves by UNESCO.  

France 2001. Yann Arthus-Bertrand. Pane of Voh Heart in New Caledonia. One of the photographs has been issued as a postage stamp in the well-known (Valentine) heart-shape, the other images are labels.
  • France 2001.  "La Terre Vue du Ciel".  

France 2001. Yann Arthus-Bertrand. Close-up of Voh Heart in New Caledonia.

Voh Heart in New Caledonia

Corners and the middle:
The Voh Heart in New Caledonia.  A heart-shaped natural mangrove formation.  
A mangrove swamp is an amphibious tree formation common to tropical and subtropical coastlines, arising on muddy salt flats exposed to fluctuating tides.  It consists of various halophytes (plants that can live in salty soils) with a predominance of mangroves.  These swamps are found on four continents, covering a total area of 65,000 square miles, or nearly 25% of the world's coastal areas.  At certain spots in the interior, that are not reached by seawater, except at high tides, vegetation gives way to bare, oversalted stretches called tannes, such as this one near the city of Voh, where nature has carved this clearing in the shape of a heart.

Top middle:
Agricultural landscape near Cognac, Charente, France.
In the nineteenth century phylloxera, a disease caused by a parasitic aphid, ravaged the vineyards of Charente along with nearly half of all French vines.  A major part of the grape stocks of this region was replaced by cereal plantings, which still dominate the landscape.  The vineyards were gradually restored around the city of Cognac, where the production of the liquor of the same name has steadily increased.  Growing on chalky soil, the white ugni stock (known locally as saint-émilion) yelds a wine that is distilled and aged in oak casks, giving rise to cognac, a registered trade name restricted to this soil.  

Middle left:
Gardens at the Chateau of Vaux-Le-Vicomte, Mainey, Seine-et-Marne, France.
The "Turkish carpets" - decorative gardens of boxwood hedges - of the Chateau of Vaux-Le-Vicomte, are the work of the landscape architect André Le Nôtre.  Designed for Nicolas Fouquet, superintendent general of finances, the chateau was built in five years by approximately 18,000 workers.  The garden, set off by several lakes and fountains, is 8,000 feet lng, which required the destructino of two hamlets.  Fouquet invited the young king Louis XIV to visit in 1661; offended by the splendour of his subject's abode, the king ordered an investigation of the superintendent and had him arrested.  Le Nôtre has also designed the gardens at Chateau de Versailles, which was declared World Cultural Heritage in 1979.

Middle right:
Bora Bora, Polynesia.
Bora Bora, whose name means "first born" in Polynesian, is 15 square miles in area, made up of the emerged portion of the crater of a 7-million-year-old volcano and surrounded by a coral barrier reef.  Motus, coral islets covered with vegetation consisting ammost exclusively of coconut trees, developed on the reef.  The laggon's only opening to the sea is the pass of Teavanui, which is deep enough to allow cargo and war ships to enter.  The island was used as a military base by the United States from 1942 to 1946, and, until the construction of the airport at Tahiti, was one of the region's only islands that had an airstrip.  

Bottom middle:
Nature reserve, Arguin bank, Gironde France.
At the mouth of the Arcachon basin, between Cap-Ferret and the Pilat dune (the highest in France, which 350 feet high), the Arguin bank shows through the waters of the Atlantic Ocean.  The site is made up of a group of sandy islets that change form and position according to marine winds and currents on a relatively regular cycle of some eighty years.  It was declared a nature reserve in 1972.  The Arguin bank serves many migratory bird species as a place for short stops, hibernation, or nesting.  It primarily hosts a colony of 4,000-5,000 couples of terns (Sterna sanvicensis), which is one of the three largest in Europe.  

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