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Jon's Blog

My Work With UNEP in Afghanistan

from 2009 to 2013 Update


September 2013


The Land


Natural Resource Guidance Chart

I produced the overall concept design (“look and feel”), icons and cartography for this map Illustrating UNEP’s policy paper on Natural Resource Management and Peace Building in Afghanistan, (lead author Oli Brown, final graphics by Matija Potocnik).

Most Afghans live on the land as farmers and herders and these arid steeps and mountains have been devastated by conflict over scarce resources and geopolitical ambitions since before history was written. Also, this is the part of the world where animals and crops were first domesticated at least 10,000 years ago, and the land clearly shows the long strain of overgrazing and unsustainable farming. Yet the Afghan people are amazingly resilient and enduring. We can learn much from them about living culturally rich lives without over dependence on Western style consumption-based economies.

Afghan Central Highlands, Bamyan

Birdseye Sketch Shah Foladi Protected Area

Bamyan River divides the famed Hindu Kush range on the north, which extend into Pakistan,  from the Koh-e Baba (Grandfather Mountains) on the south.

Panorama of Koh-e-Baba and Bamyan Valley

Two of my sketches (one an illustrative cartoon above, one more realistic shown here) show the Koh-e-Baba with many stream valleys connecting the Bamyan Valley and town with remove villages at stream head waters.

Photos taken around Bamyan.

Hindu Kush

View of the Hindu Kush range north of Bamyan's famed giant Buddhas. The Taliban destroyed these mighty icons of the famed Silk Road and only vast empty niches and memories remain. These sandstone cliffs are honeycombed with passages and chambers, some containing richly painted frescos. UNESCO is overseeing historic site preservation.

Hindu Kush at Sundset

Look in the opposite direction from the previous photo (south) into the high rangelands and Koh-e Baba (Grandfather) Mountains beyond.


A winter view of the Bamyan bazaar with the Hindu Kush beyond. Bamyan is at about 2020m (7000 feet) elevation.

City of Tears from the air

"Screaming City", one of two citadels destroyed by Genghis Khan in Bamyan with the bazaar, one giant Buddha niche and the Hindu Kush in the background.


Return to webpage Afghanistan 2009-2013



Last updated: September 2013