As a member of BVNF, a Belgian nature photography group, I will avoid disturbance of plant and animal during the process of nature photography, which I practice with a thorough knowledge of and respect for nature. I will, among other things, refrain from nest photography of birds, uprooting plants or catching animals for photography purposes.
BVNF's Code of Conduct
When photographing nature one should not endanger the life, or the way of living of any plant or animal. The life as well as the well being of the subject and its environment are far more important than any picture of it. The application of these basic rules requires a basic knowledge of nature and ecology. A good knowledge of species, as well as of the behaviour and the ecology of the subjects will facilitate a proper application of the basic rules.
Rules of conduct:
1. One shall only make pictures of subjects in their natural environment. Picking flowers, or capturing animals for photographic purposes, is completely unacceptable.
Only when natural elements ( plants, animals, geological and physical subjects) are the actual subject of the picture, which is taken when the subject appears under free and natural conditions, is it to be regarded as nature photography.
Aquarium-, terrarium-or zoo-photography and photography in Game Farms, where it concerns captivated or trained animals, is not part of the action field of BVNF.
Most landscapes (even though they are only semi-natural) are part of the range of our nature photography.
Pictures of assaults to nature and the environment are also considered to be part of the scope of BVNF, as photography in service of the protection of nature.
The presentation of images that are changed digitally or are changed in any other way in regard to the original recording is not part of the action field of BVNF.
2. When making pictures one should change the environment of the subject as little as possible and one should take great care not to damage the subject's natural protection.
3. Nest photography of birds is excluded. Photographing birds in the vicinity of a nest is dissuaded.
By not photographing birds nests in general we avoid inducement of making nest photography of birds that are more sensitive to disturbance.
Species which tolerate the presence of man (eventually depending on place and time) can be photographed in the vicinity of the nest, but only with due regard to the basic rules ( e.g. cliff birds).
4. Pictures of nesting holes or photographing in the vicinity of nesting places other than of birds is dissuaded if disturbance is possible.
5. The disturbance of foraging animals or animals carrying food to breeding sites is to be avoided.
For most of the time animals are awake and are looking for food. Also without human interference, animals are regularly disturbed while foraging, without causing much damage. This however, can change in cases of prolonged or regularly repeated disturbance. When animals are weak, food is hard to find, or when feeding youngsters or partner, even one single act of disturbance may be fatal. Therefore it is dissuaded to photograph animals carrying food, unless this is done from a carefully places hide.
6. Sleeping or resting places shall not be disturbed in any case.
Winter sleep has to be respected unconditionally because interference at this stage may directly endanger the life of the animal. High tidal refuges can be interesting places for a hide, but one should take care to stay hidden until all birds have left the refuge spontaneously.
7. One should not evoke any behaviour which may cause damage to the animal. We do not recommend the use of bird song playback.
If applied in a proper way, feeders or drinking places may be a positive way to attract animals. However, if animals become partially or completely dependent on the artificial food, one has to take care to continue the provisioning after the photo session, until this becomes unnecessary.
8. Manipulation of animals (e.g. holding or moving them) or plants (e.g. pinching) is usually inappropriate, often to be avoided and sometimes totally unacceptable. If pictures can only be taken after manipulation, one can better wait for another opportunity.
Sometimes very simple manipulations can directly endanger the life of the subject (e.g. rejection of youngsters by their parents after human contact). Moreover, manipulation is often not in accordance with foregoing basic principles.
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