The Pando Photographic Survey
Creating a vital record for scientists to study and the world to enjoy for generations to come.
Since 2008, when Pando’s size was verified by researchers, the world’s largest tree has been the subject of countless headlines and stories that stir wonder, advance scientific debates, and capture the imagination of tree lovers and travelers from around the world. In fact, 300,000 people a year visit the land Pando calls home, not only to experience the tree, but also to enjoy Fish Lake, the largest natural mountain freshwater lake in Utah. Despite Pando’s outsized popularity, we lack a complete photographic record of the tree, a record scientists and land managers need to understand, track and monitor the tree’s health. This project is especially is especially important as those who study the tree are finding evidence that Pando is in decline for reasons we have yet to fully understand.
Since the 1860’s, photography has played a critical role helping scientists, the public and policy makers understand and protect the majesty of the American landscape. Although it may be hard to believe, scientists still use photos taken in the 1800 and 1900’s and compare them with pictures taken today to better understand how subjects or the land changes over time; a practice known as re-photography. In an era of satellites, artificial intelligence and GPS, re-photography may seem outdated, but it plays a vital role in forest management and conservation. By creating the first photograph of Pando, our work will provide a baseline image by which scientist and land managers can mark and monitor changes that can be used for generations to come.
In summer of 2021, working with students and citizen scientists, Friends of Pando will lead the effort to create the first color image of Pando’s entire 106-acre span using cutting-edge 360-degree cameras and global information systems. Once complete, the Pando Photographic Survey will be made freely available for scientists to study and the world to enjoy.
Sample Image of Pando in 360
Creating the first photographic survey of the Pando will involve not only logistical challenges, but collaboration and coordination. We will bridge the realms of art and science bring together a diverse group of people, skills and perspectives. The survey group will include artists, community leaders, designers, ecologists, foresters, hospitality managers, land managers and scientists. Additionally, to help prepare the stewards of tomorrow today, Friends of Pando will pay 15 students from natural sciences, art, film and design programs from throughout the US to train on equipment and take part in the shoot and production of the photographic survey and Virtual Pando exhibit. Students will also take part in nightly workshops on everything from art and land management to forest science and the studies on what makes Pando unique. The project will allow the students the chance to explore their creativity and their reasoning skills, while earning valuable field experience and recommendations from leading scientists and artists. Work we believe they can grow from, and be proud to name in their list of accomplishments throughout their careers.
Bringing Pando to the World
Today, we know immersive experiences with nature play a critical role in cultivating awareness, promoting understanding and inspiring stewardship. Despite this, Pando’s remote location, hectic terrain and sheer size create a variety of logistical and natural barriers to many who would like to study and experience the tree first hand. The Pando Photographic Survey will not only create the first large scale image of the tree, but it will also be used to help scientists, educators and the world enjoy the tree through two additional programs.
The Pando Photographic Survey Website
A freely available website will host the results of the photographic survey. Featuring all 11,300 images taken this summer, the site will host the photographic survey and related location data and tools allowing scientists and educators to explore and study Pando wherever they are.
Pando: The World Tree Virtual Experience
Using images taken during the Photographic Survey and short subject documentaries created about the tree, Lead Photographer and Producer Lance Oditt will create Pando: The World Tree, a virtual land art installation that will allow people world-wide to experience Pando’s 106-acre expanse using their mobile devices. They’ll learn about the tree and what they can do to ensure it is enjoyed for generations to come.
The Pando Photographic Survey By the Numbers
Meet the Team
This project is an all-volunteer endeavor and would not be possible without the support of our many volunteers and partners. On July 31, 2021 these nineteen volunteers gatherdc in the Fishlake Basin to photograph the entirety of the Pando for posterity.
Made Possible via the Support of
Snow College’s Natural Resources Program is a field-based program that works closely with local companies to give students real world experience through projects, trainings, and certifications in the different types of natural resources.
Snow College is the fiscal sponsor for the Pando Photographic Survey and students from the college will assist with the initial land survey shoot and production of the photographic survey.
Lensrentals is the largest online rental provider for photography, videography, and lighting equipment and accessories in the United States shipping gear to customers in all 50 states and also provides in-person pickups and returns to local customers.
Lensrentals is supporting the Pando Photographic Survey by providing cameras, discounts on needed equipment and assisting with the promotion of the project.
EJF Philanthropies provides support to nonprofit organizations working to solve important challenges, by addressing underlying systemic causes and allocating resources to have a multiplier effect.
EJF Philanthropies provided a generous grant for student citizen scientists to take part in the survey, create the Pando Survey website and virtual tour as well as administrative support and strategy for this year’s slate of programs.