A Focus On Nature

A Vision For Nature

TeleVISION for Nature – by Lydia Johnson

Welcome to our series of blog posts in the run up (originally) to the general election (7th May 2015). Over this month AFON members will share their own Visions for Nature: what they want the natural world to look like by 2050 and how they want to get there. Despite the election being over, we have decided to continue the series as more posts keep arriving from our members! We have created a hashtag on Twitter so why not join the conversation? What’s your #VisionforNature?

For me, there’s not much that a cup of tea, a duvet and a bit of Attenborough can’t solve. Being able to momentarily explore the intimacy of giant river otter pups playing in the Pantanal (whilst in reality sitting in a dank student house in York with an ever-present smell of burnt pizza and must) reminds me every day of why I’m so desperate to just get out there and do it.

Giant River Otters (BBC's Natural World)

Wildlife documentaries have played a huge part in my ‘nature awakening’. I’ve always grown up in cities- 18 years of them in London, and so being able to access such escapism was vital in keeping me sane and driven. A lot of my friends liked animals and they’d patiently listen to me blabbing on about the dramatic life of a wildebeest calf, but they’d all go home and watch 90210 or Strictly.

At the time I assumed it was because they just weren’t that interested in nature; and if you’re not interested in nature- why watch TV shows about it?

But now more and more I’m convinced it isn’t, and shouldn’t be that simple. Ok here’s an example: Everyone loves Friends, and will stick it on no matter how many times they’ve seen the episode.

What is it that makes us like TV shows- what makes them addictive? Plot? Romance? Comedy? Cinematography? Appeal to children? Historical nostalgia? Friends certainly encompasses a good number of that list. I absolutely believe that nature documentaries can too.

Meerkats interacting with film crew on set of Life Story (BBC)

I am not criticising the documentaries we already have- they have excited, informed and delighted us ever since Sir David’s first Zoo Quest (read his autobiography ‘Life on Air’- seriously, read it. Now.) But I believe that very often they are aimed at a certain demographic of people- whether that be defined by age, race, class or geography. Either way they have not yet been properly adapted to suit the majority. We need to put our empathetic heads on and work out a way to teach, inspire and remove the stereotype of what it is to be a nature nerd. We need child psychology experts to tell us what interests children and we need people to work out how to offer plot, romance, and comedy through the natural world.

Sir David Attenborough on set on Zoo Quest (BBC)

The more pressure we are putting on politicians to make changes for nature, the more we need to put pressure on the general public to realise its value.

We do not need to inspire nature enthusiasts to become more enthusiastic- we need to generate new enthusiasts. The knowledge and passion we could impart through television is endless and incredibly exciting. So, I’ve got over excited again, but I hope you can see what I’m trying to get across. My advice to you then (and to myself) is to keep going and be determined to change the world. Technology is a fact of life now, and it will be in 50 years, so let’s use it right.

Lydia Johnson is a second year student at York university, and her dream is to be a wildlife TV broadcaster. She is especially obsessed with African wildlife. She was lucky enough to be interviewed on BBC Autumnwatch Extra last year after she thought up the #100DaysofNature concept for BBC Springwatch. She is president of the University of York Wildlife Society, a proud member of ‘A Planet Fit For Nature’  nature squad and passionate about making everyone feel empowered to help the earth. You can follow her on Twitter at: @EnviroEmpower and at via her blog at: https://naturallylydia.wordpress.com/