If mangrove trees had blood, the 54,000 km of Indonesian coastline would be indelibly stained in red.

In the last 25 years, this massacre has reduced this complex amphibious ecosystem by more than 50%. Among many other unique qualities, this biosphere is capable of storing four times more carbon than any other inland tropical forest and home to a biodiversity that has few equals on the face of the earth.

Particularly in the coastal valley of Sawah Luhur, on West Java Island in Indonesia, the soil has been burned up, fishing nets are empty like barren wombs and the water has become a massive grave. Everywhere you look, strange signs of a sick Earth are appearing and fishermen no longer know how to decipher them.

In short, everything is upside down: the night sky shines golden from the perpetual dawn of villages lit and above, the stars have all but disappeared.

Below them, the tree(s) of life is dying under a fierce blood moon. The vital yet invisible network that inextricably links the life of every being on Earth has been torn apart. We all have lost.

—Elisabetta Zavoli


Editor’s Note: The Tree of Life is part
is part of a larger project Zavoli has been shooting since 2012: A Fistful of Shrimp. At the moment, Zavoli is working further on the full journalistic story thanks to a grant from the European Journalism Centre which she received in May 2016.

The investigation is ongoing and takes place between Indonesia, Italy and the Netherlands. An interactive web documentary will be released between November and December 2016.