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Cambodia Burning

Sean Gallagher (UK)

Using a unique mix of drone cinematography and Cambodian poetry, Sean Gallagher’s latest film explores the changes in Cambodia’s landscapes, brought about by deforestation and forest fires, and the emotional impact it has had on Cambodian people.

Deforestation has been accelerating across Cambodia and it is estimated that there is only 3% of primary forest left throughout the country. In 2018, fires burnt in record numbers throughout the forests of north and central Cambodia. At their peak during the dry season between January and March, it is estimated up to 1,800 fires were burning in the country, more than in any other country throughout South East Asia at that time.

The main drivers behind deforestation in Cambodia are conversion of forest lands for agricultural use and targeted logging of valuable species, such as Rosewood, for Asian furniture markets.


Sean Gallagher is an independent photographer and filmmaker. His work focuses on creating photography and documentary film projects that highlight stories from the front line of the climate crisis and other important and under-reported global environmental issues. Originally from the UK, he has lived and worked across Asia for over 15 years and am currently based out of Beijing.

From chasing timber poachers with armed policemen through the jungles of Cambodia, to photographing undercover in secretive North Korea, he produces diverse stories that are featured with some of the world’s leading news outlets, such as National Geographic, CNN and The Guardian.

He graduated in Zoology from university in the United Kingdom and it is his background in science that has led to much of his work being focused on communicating environmental issues through visual storytelling.

In 2014, at the age of 35, he was made a Fellow of the UK Royal Geographical Society for my work documenting environmental issues in Asia.