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Supporting the Sciences of Light and Life Through the Arts For Animal Welfare and Wildlife Conservation.

“Light is arguably the most important factor for life. Animals evolved under very specific lighting conditions, meaning that their bodies, behaviors and places in the world are absolutely linked to natural light and its cycles. Understanding light effects on biology could not be more important when caring for animals, or for protecting the habitats that we need them to survive within, for our own well being…”

-Brett Seymoure PhD, ZLI Photo-Sciences Department Chair

The Zoological Lighting Institute is the only charity of its kind in the world. We pursue the work that a for-profit company would be unable to do, producing value to help companies adjust to keep their markets healthy. For-profit companies need communities, communities need wildlife and wildlife needs natural light; we are there to ensure that this is not only understood, but acted upon for the economic, cultural and environmental values of life on the planet.

Natural light on earth has been modified in at least three ways: by outright habitat destruction, by the addition of artificial light and through the use of building materials that change the shape, structure and qualities of light in the environment.

The suffering that this causes to animals is generally appreciated at a distance, as the occasional article or research study on light pollution often makes its way into the media. These studies are often accompanied by recognition that night lighting contributes to cancers, diabetes and other medical ailments in humans. Solutions to these issues are limited, as more and more habitat is developed, more artificial lighting is introduced and the optical properties of building materials relevant for animal life are rarely if ever considered. Yet without a qualitative revolution in the thinking of and practices related to light, animals will continue to suffer and die while their ecosystems will collapse beyond recuperation. It is in our interest to fix this.

“Over the last two hundred years, humans have dramatically changed the conditions of light on earth. Artificial lights contribute to the destruction of natural light, as does the degradation of habitats that produced very distinct light environments that are now no more.

Nearly all protected areas across the world have had an increase in night time lighting since 1992, and now over eighty percent of humans live under highly light polluted skies… Of the remaining forests on our planet, and we have lost most, currently 70% of their land exist only one kilometer from an edge. The natural light conditions that forest canopies provide have been greatly reduced by human activities. This alarming change in natural lighting conditions has direct ecological consequences including loss of biodiversity and risk of species extirpation and extinction.”

-Brett Seymoure PhD, ZLI Photo-Sciences Department Chair

The Zoological Lighting Institute is the first organization that gathers these disparate studies into one mission, and turns directly to science and the arts to pursue it. Science is necessary to understand the effects of light on life and so to test workable solutions. The arts, of cultural heritage and critical perspectives, are necessary to engage better questions within the science and to produce diverse responses to natural light loss and modification. It is our job to gather existing research together, to support and encourage new research, and then to encourage and produce solutions. For this to work, The Zoological Lighting Institute needs also to develop markets and understanding for wildlife sensitive living. To do this, we have developed four ‘Departments’, and encourage you to find your place within them.

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