Our favourite Sir David Attenborough moments and why they’re important for our planet.
Urth HQ | AUSTRALIA
As an explorer, naturalist, conservationist and all-round global icon, Sir David Attenborough is in a league of his own. Bringing unseen natural worlds into our homes, David has educated and inspired millions of people with his nature programmes. Spanning more than 60 years in television broadcasting, David has produced countless awe-inspiring, pioneering moments through his work and passion for exploration. With so much quality footage to choose from, picking out his best bits is tough. After much pondering, here are some of our favourite David Attenborough conservation videos.
The Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy Project (2018)
Nature royalty meets real-life royalty: David discusses the Commonwealth Canopy Project with the Queen. This unique and ambitious project will see native forests built and protected across Commonwealth countries. What a great way to boost global conservation.
The Great Barrier Reef (2015)
David returns to Australia’s natural wonder over 60 years since his first visit. Now, armed with state-of-the-art technology and extensive scientific research, David once again explores this extraordinary and diverse underwater landscape that’s like no other on our planet.
Planet Earth (2016)
Both Planet Earth series I and II are epic in their own rights, but a particular highlight was episode one of series II, where a young iguana is chased by snakes on the Galapagos Islands. So popular was this episode that it ranked as the most watched natural history programme in more than 15 years.
Blue Planet (2017)
Marine life is put under the spotlight in this iconic series, with bags of never-seen-before footage of underwater habitats. Deserving of its many awards, it’s hard to pick out a favourite video from both Blue Planet series. This clip of our courageous crabby friend on the run from the worlds gnarliest eel and the slinky sly Octopus is a classic example of Sir Attenborough’s uncanny ability there and narrate these epic battles of salty survival.
Frozen Planet (2011)
The Arctic and Antarctic are the focus of this seven-part series, peppered with icy golden moments in each episode. However, there’s a particular scene that makes an easy choice for one of our favourite David Attenborough conservation videos. This is where a penguin secretly steals the stones that another penguin is collecting to build a nest. Apparently, it’s all about finding the right kind of stones! This is nature at its finest and funniest.
A help or hindrance?
David has enabled us to glimpse wide-ranging natural worlds we would never have otherwise seen or heard about. In doing so, he has captivated audiences in their millions. This all seems extremely positive, but could his programmes be somewhat unhelpful from a conservation point of view?
Some experts argue that showing wildlife and nature in all its beautiful, technicolour glory could promote a false sense of security about the world. Watching countless creatures on screen going about their daily lives, to the backdrop of David’s dulcet tones, could make viewers believe that all is fine and dandy with the natural world. We can carry on regardless.
Yet, others think that if wildlife programmes start to paint a depressing picture about nature, viewers could feel helpless and hopeless to action change. They may be put off tuning in.
Instead, by capturing on film how wonderful, rich and diverse our planet is, it can actually spur people on to do something to maintain and protect it. And this motivating factor could be one of the best ways to ensure conservation efforts actually happen. Of course, achieving a fine balance between showcasing reality, inspiring and educating, and making good TV, is also essential.
Whether nature programmes paint a rosy picture or not, we can all do our bit to protect and conserve the environment. Attenborough believes that immediate action is required and that if we don’t act now and take steps to protect the natural world, “the human race will regret it”. Though Attenborough is an optimist when it comes to the state of our oceans, he says the damage is not irreversible, and nature can recover if we give it a chance. Simple actions such as reducing plastic usage, travelling mindfully and leaving no trace can all help. This will ensure these very subjects we watch on TV are still around to be filmed for future programmes. Certainly, we hope there’ll be enough wildlife participants alive (and the legendary Sir David himself) to make a Planet Earth III happen.
Conservation wouldn’t be the same without David Attenborough at the helm. Indeed, we think he’s a great ambassador and educator. Yet, any form of conservation art, photography or filmmaking can serve to educate and raise awareness, if it’s made consciously. For example, take a look at how some artists are using photography as a medium to highlight waste. This proves that even positive messages can come out of negative situations or problems.