Living in the Chinese province of Yunnan, I have spent the last 3 years to shooting these images. Each image is unique, influenced by the weather and lighting. These man-made paddies convey incredible beauty.

The Hani Rice Terraces, covering 16,603-hectares in Southern Yunnan, are marked by spectacular terraces that cascade down the slopes of the towering Ailao Mountains to the banks of the Hong River. Over the past 1,300 years, the Hani people have developed a complex system of channels to bring water from the forested mountaintops to the terraces.

As a specialist of Chinese landscapes, I have captured these fascinating and beautiful places. I spent three winters and one summer photographing the paddy field terraces, including Yuanyang and Longji, two of the most famous paddy terraces in China.

—Thierry Bornier

Editors’ Note: Don’t miss the work of all the other winners and finalists from the LensCulture Earth Awards 2015. In total, you’ll find 34 unique points of view inspired by the earth, nature and our shared surroundings. Beauty, destruction, wonder and hope—these are timely, important works that shouldn’t be missed!