When Enrico & Erna Liebenberg left their corporate careers in 2009, they had no intention of venturing into the world of professional photography. They wanted to follow their passion for travelling the subcontinent, and only subsequently expanding this passion to photographing the natural life they encountered, while Erna rediscovered her talent for painting and sketching. By coincidence they were drawn into the world of trees, discovering that South Africa has the only project on the continent that records and protects very large and very old trees by legislation. At first, they started photographing these giants – some of which are as tall as 80 metres and others that have a canopy spread exceeding 65 metres – simply to offer the custodian of the Champion tree project a photographic record of the trees.
They soon realised that information about the Champion Trees was eroding each passing year and the possibility existed that the entire record of these trees could be lost within a few years. At this point, their photography turned serious: they retraced a number of routes and steps with a view to obtaining publication-quality images. In two years, they travelled nearly a hundred thousand kilometres, visiting some of the country’s most remote corners and traversing some of its most intimidating roads to bring readers the material presented here and, in a small way, to preserve a relatively unknown section of South Africa’s natural heritage.