As we contemplate our critical role in the Earth’s future, photography has the power to show the astonishing diversity of life on our planet and remind us of the crucial need to shape a more sustainable co-existence between humanity and the natural world.

The long-running competition “The Wildlife Photographer of the Year” (now in its 53rd edition) showcases the globe’s best nature photography and photojournalism in one place, hoping to ignite curiosity about the natural world while shining the spotlight on wildlife photography as an art form.

This year’s competition attracted almost 50,000 entries from professionals and amateurs across 92 countries. The 13 images previewed here are just a small fraction of what was entered and what will be exhibited next month (100 images overall). But we hope this selection, in its own small way, provides an inspiring sense of the incomparable beauty of our surrounding world and its astonishingly varied denizens.

—LensCulture

Editors’ note: The overall winners will be announced on October 17 at an awards ceremony in London’s Natural History Museum. After the flagship exhibition opening at the Natural History Museum, the images will embark on a UK and international tour, bringing the wonder and fragility of the natural world to millions beyond London.