The art of nature documentaries: capturing wildlife through a conservationist's eye.

Photo from Seven Bedard | flickr.com

Photo from Seven Bedard | flickr.com

The developments in camera technology have forever changed the ways in which we can watch wildlife. Today, there are many shows/movies that portray animals interacting with each other and their natural environment. We tend to assume that the animals we watch through our television are unaffected by the film crew’s presence. In reality, human involvement with these animals can be detrimental to the wildlife’s safety. 16 year old Abbie Barnes, of CoalitionWILD’s 2013 Wilder World Challenge, aspires to create films that expose the secrets of wildlife documentaries as well as highlight the importance of conservation. Barnes combines her filmmaking talents with her knowledge of environmental issues to create informative and accurate portrayals of wildlife. Her effort to reinvent wildlife documentaries is an amazing endeavor and will improve the way in which these films depict animals.

Barnes’ appetite for creating wildlife documentaries began with filming local animals, such as foxes, badgers, and deer. Over the last two years, she has started to create a series of wildlife identification clips and short films. Her films serve to both encourage conservation efforts and assist people with the classification of flora and fauna. For example, one of her short films highlights the importance of garden snails and the surprisingly intricate lives they lead. Realizing how garden snails contribute to your garden and the importance of their slimy trails helps viewers to appreciate these tiny creatures.

Barnes’ ability to help others recognize the importance of conservation is undeniable. While filming her entry to the EcoTales Film Competition, a family beach clean-up turned into an incredible community event to clean up the coastline. Barnes’ entry into EcoTales competition quickly became a feature on the communal enthusiasm and local initiative to clean the coastline. This three-minute entry about her community’s clean-up won the EcoTales competition! Sir David Attenborough presented Barnes the winning award at the EcoTales festival in Twickenham (London). According to the judges at the festival, Barnes “did a fantastic job at highlighting the damaging effects of plastic in our oceans.“ You can watch Barnes’ EcoTales submission here.

A large focus of Barnes’ conservation efforts involves creating awareness about the harmful effects of palm oil. Barnes urges for the development of alternatives to palm oil, and moreover, the complete phasing out of the substance. Her campaign reinforces the need for sustainable palm oil and showcases the work of many across the globe striving for the same goal. In her effort to “clean-up palm oil,” Barnes spoke to 20 Members of European Parliament about the issues surrounding its use. By advocating for the phasing out of palm oil on an international level, Barnes is contributing to greening the planet on a grand scale.

No matter how you prefer to watch wildlife, in person or on film, the message remains the same: we need to conserve nature and reduce our impact on the natural environment. Through filming wildlife and the environment, Barnes is able to tell a cautionary, yet motivating tale. By informing viewers on important issues and providing viable solutions, Barnes is contributing to a wilder world. Congratulations on being amongst the top submissions in CoalitionWILD’s 2013 Wilder World Challenge Abbie! We cannot wait to see what your future holds!