Apr 10

This week Arkive is celebrating the US premiere of the environmental documentary Tomorrow, (Demain le Film). We’ll be featuring a guest blog each day this week, with documentary contributors discussing the global issues featured in Tomorrow.

Tomorrow’s US premier is in San Francisco this Friday, 14th April 2017. Visit the website for a full run-down and trailer.

“Without question, this is absolutely the best and most creative film on the future of humanity and the environment.” – Paul Hawken, leading environmentalist

 

Tomorrow trailer

Tomorrow trailer

Who are you?

My name is Rob Hopkins. I am a blogger, writer and public speaker, and the founder of Transition Movement. I started the first Transition initiative here in Totnes, Devon, UK, and also Transition Network, which supports the people in over 50 countries who are now doing Transition. I have won several awards for my work, including 2 honorary PhDs. I am also a father to four sons, a gardener, the director of New Lion Brewery, and was delighted to be one of the people featured in Tomorrow – I’m the guy with the £21 note!

What is your field of work?

I was a teacher of permaculture for years, before starting the Transition Movement in 2005. The area of my work is around communities, and the potential they have to organise and make things happen. I was struck that climate change felt like such a vast, existential crisis and that people were overwhelmed, and had given all their power over to leaders to sort it out. But I also saw that there was so much that communities could do. They could move faster, they were nimbler, they could be more ambitious. And that the projects they were doing were building connection, were bringing people together, and were reviving local economies. So for me, Transition is a movement of communities reimagining and rebuilding our world, and they are doing so at a time that desperately needs that.

Rob Hopkins

Rob Hopkins

Could you describe your connection with Tomorrow?

I had met Cyril Dion once before, but in 2014 he and Melanie came to Totnes to interview me for the film. I hadn’t heard of her before although, as her crew pointed out, in France she is very famous! So they filmed an interview and then went home, and I didn’t hear anything for about a year and a half. Then in December 2015, I was invited to the premiere in Paris, and it blew me away. I thought it was amazing – it made me cry at least six times. It was such an honour to see myself in it alongside other such amazing people. Its rise and impact in France, Belgium and elsewhere has been stunning to see. In France, in particular, it has been a phenomenon. When I go there now, teenagers ask me for selfies on the Metro in Paris!

Being part of it has changed my life, but more importantly, it has changed the lives of so many of those who have seen it. I went to several screenings in Paris in December 2015 and was amazed at how many young people there were. I asked them “why do you like it so much?” They told me that after the terror attacks in Paris the month before, “we don’t know what our story is anymore. Now we have our story”. That’s very powerful.

Mass coral bleaching events are happening around the world due to climate change

Mass coral bleaching events are happening around the world due to climate change

What are the problems facing your field of work, from an environmental perspective?

We are in a race against time, a race that we are losing. We are now seeing a concerted war on climate science, a rolling back of climate action and the deletion of large sections of the evidence base. At the same time we are seeing warming accelerate, Arctic ice in its death throes, all the impacts scientists predicted coming to pass. We also see our communities becoming more isolated from each other, an “epidemic of loneliness”, and communities economically left behind. Tomorrow is a film that says “it doesn’t have to be like that. We can do better than that”. I can’t think of any film that has more to say about what’s happening in the US right now, and more potential to inspire people with a new, more inspiring and appropriate story.

Do you have any suggested solutions to the problems Tomorrow confronts?

This film is full of solutions. One of the things that is radical about this film is that it turns what I call the ‘happy chapter’ convention on its head. That’s the convention where films about green issues are relentlessly miserable until the last 5 minutes when they say “ah, but we could do this”. Tomorrow gets the problems out of the way in the first 2 minutes, then they give you 3 minutes to let that settle, and then they head off to find solutions. No-one really did that before, and I notice that quite a few people are doing so since.

For me, the future needs to be more local. Climate change makes a nonsense of moving goods around the world in order to boost economic growth figures. The UK exports to Germany every year the same amount of potatoes as it imports from Germany. Let’s just email each other the recipes and make our local economies more resilient. Our local economies need to move away from their current move towards monoculture, fewer and fewer more and more powerful businesses, to a complex ecosystem of businesses, rooted in place and in the community. That’s a solution that’s better for public health, community cohesion and for economic resilience, and it is growing now, in many places.

What are your personal feelings on the importance of conveying Tomorrow’s message, and what impact do you hope for it to have upon the audience?

I have seen, time and again, the impact this film has on people. It gives them hope. It gives them workable, tried-and-tested solutions they can draw on. It’s a film about climate change they leave feeling great. It touches people deeply. The music is great. It’s funny. I think everyone should see it. Increasingly in the media, it seems like there is a general consensus that the future is going to be awful. This film confronts that head-on, asking the questions, ‘why?’ and ‘who says?’. The future could still be amazing, but we need ideas, imagination and inspiration – all of which Tomorrow provides in huge doses.

What has been most powerful about Tomorrow in France and Belgium is how it has reached a whole new audience, beyond ‘the usual suspects’ and into mainstream society. No ‘green’ film ever did that before in the same way. I hope people who see it feel fired with possibilities. Anything could happen from here. In creating this film, Cyril and Melanie have created something extraordinary, something really powerful. In the US now, people are being told that addressing climate change means fewer jobs, so we have to not address it. This film powerfully and beautifully reveals that as the nonsense it is, arguing for more holistic approach. It shows that you can’t tackle the food system without also taking on the economic system, and you can’t do that without also looking at energy and transport, and all of that is going to struggle unless we also look afresh at how we educate our kids. It’s common sense. That joined-up, holistic approach is one that people understand even if politicians don’t. There can be no more important movie being release in the US right now.

Final words…

Just that I am so pleased that Under the Milky Way have decided to distribute this film. I hope it continues to have a huge impact around the world. I think people will love it.

We’d like to thank Rob for his words and speaking to us. If you’d like to know more about Rob’s work you can visit his blog, the Transition Network website or find him on Twitter.

Jan 11

I’m Roberto Isotti, a conservation photographer, Arkive and Wildscreen Exchange contributor and PhD in zoology.

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I’m based in Rome (where I was born). I began my professional activity in the Eternal City and even though I have travelled to six continents, I still maintain a deep connection with the city of Rome, that is forever full of charm and inspiration.

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I am currently working on a project entitled ‘Wild Rome’ which is a way for me to mix the love for my city and the great passion for nature that drove me to conservation photography and still leads my everyday work.

Wild Rome is a long-term project that tells the story, often hidden, of wild animals living in the city. The idea is to highlight the species that live next to us, often nearly ignored by people. The link between a big metropolitan area, such Rome, and its wildlife is not so easy to catch, but Rome is a surprisingly green city with lots of wildlife.

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In Rome there are:

  • 4 million citizens
  • 19 mammal species
  • 121 bird species, 78 of them nesting
  • 16 amphibian species
  • 10 reptilian species
  • 5,000 insect species

With this project, we aim to tell the stories of the wild citizens of our city who are often seen, but people are not fully aware of. Through photography and storytelling, we will show animals for what they really are, without judgment or hierarchy: non-human individuals with unique characteristics, neighbours with whom we share the city.

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Wild Rome focuses on the biodiversity hosted in our city in a new light, with the hope of creating empathy for unpopular species, showing their hidden beauty and their function within their ecosystems. This will create a tangible connection between people and the animals that have decided to call an overpopulated city like Rome home.

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Please share this blog and help Roberto to inspire people to care for the future of the wildlife of Rome.

Visit Roberto’s website to see more of his amazing photographs and find out more about his Wild Rome project.

 

Aug 1

Clare James is a wildlife photographer and conservation photojournalist. Here Clare discusses her time at the Sibuya Game Reserve, home to the Sibuya Rhino Foundation.

A lone Rhino in the early morning mist on the river plains is a special sight. The dawn brings new light and hope into the world.

A lone rhino in the early morning mist on the river plains is a special sight

Whilst teaching wildlife photography out in South Africa, I became aware of the enormity of the poaching issue, affecting numerous species of flora and fauna. South Africa is still teeming with wildlife compared to many other regions on this planet. This will soon change if poaching continues at the current rate.

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Clare photographing rhinos in Sibuya Game Reserve

Last year, I spent six months out in the bush filming and photographing wildlife away from the clutches of civilization, spending a few months at Sibuya Game Reserve. Spending time out in the bush filming, getting to know the men on the Anti-Poaching Unit (APU) who work long hours in order to protect these beautiful prehistoric creatures was extremely special. White rhino are now the main target of criminal organisations, who stop at nothing to get their hands on the horn, rhino horn is currently one of the most lucrative commodities in the world, it is used as a status symbol in Vietnam and an aphrodisiac in China, alongside providing funding for certain terrorist groups.

Whilst filming I was delighted to meet a young rhino affectionately known as Binky, who had been born a week earlier and over the months watched her grow into a fine young rhino, under the protective eye of her beautiful parents. I got to know some of their unique personality traits and habits. Inevitably I became extremely close and attached to this beautiful family. Seeing Bingo, Binky’s father, protect his family was very touching.

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Binky’s family

 

Bingo’s protection turned out to not be enough, as less than a year later, poaching had claimed their lives. Poachers had infiltrated the reserve and using chainsaws cut away the base plate of three rhinos including Bingo and the two female mothers. Bingo survived the initial attack, fighting for the first few days then also went on to a more peaceful place, leaving little Binky orphaned. Having both mother and father ripped away, Binky and another newborn rhino, Courage, whose mother’s life was also taken that day are left alone in this world.

Through human brutality they have been torn apart. We have to continue fighting this war for the rhino’s sake. The rate of poaching can be slowed and stopped if more people stand together. My heart bleeds with the memories of the happy family which I spent so much time with a year ago.

Binky in Sibuya Game Reserve

Binky in Sibuya Game Reserve

Please share this story to support Sibuya Rhino Foundation in their mission to protect their remaining rhinos so that the little ones have their chance to reproduce and keep this special species alive for future generations.

Save our rhinos!

Save our rhinos!

Visit the Sibuya Rhino Foundation website to find out more about the amazing work that they do

Find out more about rhinos on Arkive

See more of Clare’s beautiful images on her Clare James website

May 9

We recently caught up with with our friends at Voices for Nature who were keen to tell us about the unique and innovative work that they are doing to save Brazil’s rainforests and what the future holds for their organisation.

What is Voices for Nature?

We are a not-for-profit organisation based in Oxford, UK. Our aim is to inspire and engage people to protect and conserve Brazil’s rainforests through conservation story-telling. We believe that stories are powerful tools for learning and catalysts for change. We use literature, theatre and film to engage people in conservation and give a voice to nature.

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Aerial view of a tree in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest

Voices for Nature was formed in 2014 by Sigrid Shreeve, an environmentalist and campaigner who has worked in Brazil over many years. Voices for Nature employs students and young graduates offering them the opportunity to be creative and engage with conservation.

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Sigrid Shreeve

Sigrid is the author of the novel ‘Jabujicaba’ which was written as an engagement tool under the penname ‘Rosa da Silva’. In the novel, Brazil is bankrupt due to the effects of climate change and the Amazon is up for auction. The royalties from ‘Jabujicaba’ support rainforest conservation through Voices for Nature’s partners the World Land Trust, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust and Isle of Wight Zoo.

What does Voices for Nature do?

Voices for Nature is an arts organisation which connects people with conservation. Our work is based on the eco-thriller ‘Jabujicaba’, which forms the basis of various initiatives. These include:

The Jabuji debates – a national debating competition for sixth formers in the UK. The competition is run by Voices for Nature and the debates are hosted by Eton College. The First Jabuji Debates final was in March 2016 with participating schools from London, Berkshire and Kent. The event consists of workshops, mini-debates and a public final debates.

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Debaters with Sigrid Shreeve

Forum theatre – we are producing a play entitled ‘The Amazon Auction’ with pupils from Wheatley Park School near Oxford, which will will be performed in Oxford Botanic Gardens in June 2016. As part of the performance two teams will ‘pitch’ to the audience to convince them to support their bid in a mock auction of the Amazon Rainforest. Performers will play roles of characters from the novel ‘Jabujicaba’.

Documentary film – Voices for Nature supports original conservation documentary filmmaking. We were executive producers of the documentary Uncharted Amazon, which was shot in an endangered part of Peru’s Amazon. We will be screening Uncharted Amazon as part of the Oxford Festival of the Arts in June 2016 and also running campaign film workshops for young people together with the charity Film Oxford.

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Voices for Nature workshop

Rainforest Movie – we have a big screen movie under development based on the novel ‘Jabujicaba’. The movie is a cross over between Apocalypse Now and a rainforest Erin Brockovich. The lead role with be played by the actress Yrsa Daley-Ward and the movie is part of our outreach and educational work, linking to the Jabuji Debates. The movie has been entered into Richard Branson’s #VOOM2016 to raise profile and help fund development.

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View over REGUA site in Brazil

Find out more about Voices for Nature

Visit the Voices for Nature website

Watch the Jabujicaba trailer

Vote for Jabujicaba to win #VOOM2016

Follow Voices for Nature on Twitter or Facebook

Visit the Arts Festival Oxford website to attend a free film workshop or attend a screening of ‘Uncharted Amazon’

Jul 29

Denise Spaan is the Field Station Coordinator and Conservation Education Manager for The Little Fireface Project which was set up to help protect the slow loris in Indonesia. We caught up with Denise to ask her more about this fascinating species and the important work being done to conserve it.

Can you tell us a bit about The Little Fireface Project? Who are you and what do you do?

The Little Fireface Project (LFP), named after the Sundanese word for loris, is the world’s longest-running loris conservation project, starting in 1993 under the auspices of the Nocturnal Primate Research Group of Oxford Brookes University. Our research was highlighted in the award-winning 2012 film Jungle Gremlins of Java.  Little Fireface Project, or Proyek Muka Geni, is working to save the slow loris (locally known as ‘kukang,’ ‘muka geni’ or ‘oches’) through ecology, education and empowerment. We work in West Java, Indonesia, to collect ecological and behavioural data on one of the last remaining populations of Javan slow lorises. Also in West Java, we work with the local community and schools to promote awareness of slow lorises and the importance of conservation. Conservation requires a multi-faceted approach and we are working to do whatever we can to conserve these species!

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Denise Spaan giving a presentation regarding the work done by the Little Fireface Project in Tasikmalaya © Wawan Tarniwan

My name is Denise Spaan and I am the Field Station Coordinator and Conservation Education Manager for LFP’s field site in West Java. I am in charge of the day-to-day management of running a field station (e.g. finances, scheduling, etc.), organising volunteers and establishing education programmes within the schools surrounding the field site and the broader community. Additionally, I am doing research on the behavioural ecology and distribution of the Javan slow loris to help in reintroduction programmes. Moreover, I perform market surveys to assess the availability of slow lorises in animal markets across Java. As field station manager I find it important to be involved in all aspects of our work in West Java to help promote the conservation of the slow loris.

What makes slow lorises special and what are the issues they face?

Slow lorises are a unique group of primates found throughout South and Southeast Asia. They are small, nocturnal primates, and their vice-like grip, snake-like movements, shy nature and, most remarkably, their venomous bite, make them unique amongst the primates. To many people, they are undeniably adorable, whilst to others they are nature’s answer to over 100 diseases. Their slow movements make them easy prey to expert hunters who literally empty the forests of these shy primates, which are amongst the most common mammals seen in Asia’s illegal animal markets, but amongst the rarest spotted even in Asia’s best protected forests.

Javan slow loris Dali gauging on a gum tree © It's A Wildlife

Javan slow loris Dali gauging on a gum tree © It’s A Wildlife

What is The Little Fireface Project doing to protect slow lorises?

We aim to save lorises from extinction through learning more about their ecology and using this information to educate people, including law enforcement officers. We hope this will lead to empathy and empowerment, whereby people in countries where lorises exist will want to save them for themselves.

We study slow lorises at our field site in West Java. We fit our focal slow lorises with radio collars. A team of trackers and volunteers go out each night to follow them and record their behaviour. At the moment, we are interested in studying infant dispersal and the sleeping site preferences of slow lorises. This information is very important to help with the reintroduction of lorises from rescue centres.

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Denise Spaan and Dendi Rustandi performing behavioural observations on the slow lorises

Education is a vital part of our work. Every Saturday we go to the school near our field station to teach environmental education. We focus on teaching the children about lorises and other nocturnal animals in a fun and creative way. For example, we recently made dioramas with the children that featured a slow loris, a common palm civet and an owl in a night-time forest scene. At the end of the session our head tracker Dendi went around with a head torch fitted with a red filter. We use red filters in the forest during our observations and by letting them look into their dioramas through the red light, the children saw the forest as we see it at night. He then told the children how we observe the lorises. We try and connect the knowledge we gain from studying the lorises in the wild to the classroom sessions. Additionally, we have started running a weekly nature club session led by education volunteer Charlotte Young. The aim of the nature club is to educate the children about slow lorises in a creative way by taking them out into the forest. In the last lesson the children were taken to a beautiful stream and asked to draw it on a postcard, thereby seeing a familiar environment through new eyes. We attempt to connect all these activities with teachers in the UK through our Connecting Classrooms scheme via Education Through Expeditions.

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Children shining red light into their diorama with the same head torches we use in the field to get a glimpse into what it is like to observe slow lorises at night

Twice yearly, the Little Fireface Project hosts a village festival. In July we hosted the Loris Pride Days.  This was a week-long array of events (e.g. parade, football tournament, school visits) which aimed to promote our conservation message within the entire local community and ensure that everyone in our area knows how special lorises are and that they have a stake in the future of this species. Our next event will be a major talent show and fun fair, featuring our special loris mascots as the masters of ceremony!

The lorises around our field station are found in an agroforest or mosaic environment. They are found in and amongst farms and crop fields, and it is therefore really important not only to educate children but also adults. Slow lorises are extremely valuable for farmers as they are highly insectivorous and prey on the insect pests. We therefore visit farms and just through living with these people, we build rapport. We tell the farmers of the importance of lorises to their farms, and we also exchange information about our cultures! We provide many materials we believe will be useful in the day-to-day lives of people, but also hope that such items will build pride for the loris. For example, we hand out lovely loris bandanas, pins and calendars. We have also hosted a movie night featuring our very own movie ‘Don’t Let Me Vanish’, in which lorises are portrayed as forest protectors.

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The Java team went to the local gas station to hand out flyers and calendars to help spread awareness

Find out more about The Little Fireface Project.

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