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December 20 2013

TERRA 826: A Wolf's Place

Gray Wolves stand on the edge of a precipice. Wild wolf populations across the Northern U.S. have rebounded to healthy, sustainable levels with the protection of the Endangered Species Act. Wolf advocates declare it a biological and political victory. But many ranchers call it a crime, demanding the wolves' immediate eradication... and they may just get their wish. Widespread hunting seasons have already opened in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming, with the rest of the country potentially following suit as we debate delisting all wolves in the U.S. Whether you see the wolf as the majestic cousin of man's best friend, or as a bloodthirsty devil bent on destruction, we all have a visceral reaction to these misunderstood animals. "A Wolf's Place" takes a close look at how wolves have impacted the ecosystem since their reintroduction to Yellowstone 18 years ago, and the effect the recent hunting season have had on the park's wolves. It also tells the personal story of Wolf #10, the first wild wolf released into Yellowstone in over 70 years -- his triumphant life and his tragic death in the sights of a poacher's gun. Produced by Annie White.

August 30 2013

TERRA 818: Fallen Gardens

FALLEN GARDENS explores the relationship between garden culture and deer populations. Communities on the Sunshine Coast represent many of the interface locations in British Columbia attempting to balance a respectful relationship between wildlife and the human need to develop aesthetically pleasing home environments. Implicit is the ethical question around how wildlife and human populations interrelate in ways that are environmentally honorable. Produced by Mike McKinlay.

March 15 2013

TERRA 806: Winter Range

Winter Range is a documentary film that explores the consequences of rising levels of the livestock disease Brucellosis in elk in the Greater Yellowstone Area. New elk behavior patterns, often attributed to pressure from wolves and hunters, has brought them within critical proximity to cattle consequently making brucellosis a constant threat to the livelihoods of Montana livestock producers. Winter Range features a Montana rancher who reveals the measures, or lack their of, that she has to take to protect her cattle from infected elk and brucellosis. At the heart of the problem is a conflict between people and wildlife and at the heart of this film is a story about the complexity of managing the “political disease.”

January 18 2013

TERRA 802: Restoring an Icon

The story has been told again and again: In little more than a decade during the late 1800s, hunters all but wiped out one of the continent’s most iconic animals, the American bison. They killed the animals by the tens of thousands for their hides, meat and simply for the thrill of the hunt. By the beginning of the 20th century, a species of huge ecological and cultural value had vanished from the prairie, surviving only in small, captive herds and a remnant population in Yellowstone National Park. In the late 1800s, two Montana ranchers, Michel Pablo and Charles Allard, spent more than 20 years assembling one of the largest collections of purebred bison on the continent. In 1907, after the U.S. government declined to buy the herd, Pablo made a deal with the Canadian government and shipped most of his bison northward to Elk Island National Park. Now, the ancestors of these bison are returning to their ancestral home in northern Montana. The American Prairie Foundation is working on restoring a vast amount of prairie to its natural state. This film follows the process of moving these bison and the challenges encountered along the way.

January 04 2013

TERRA 801: Salma: A Wingless Nomad

This film presents the political conflict of Western Sahara through the fictional story of a young Sahrawi refugee whose only way of connecting with reality and the memories of her childhood is through the images of flamingos. For her, flamingos incarnate the freedom her people lost when, consecutively, Spain and Morocco invaded them. They also represent the nomadic tradition of her ancestors, a way of life that she romanticizes as the true identity of the Sahrawis.

November 09 2012

TERRA 721 - Neither of Us are Buffalo

"Neither of Us are Buffalo" is a light-hearted look at the life of two animals: the American bison, and the filmmaker. Traveling in and out of each other's lives over 25 years, this film provides a context to explore differences, and surprisingly, similarities between the two characters.

August 31 2012

TERRA 716: Chasing Birds in Beringia

Enter into the ultra-adventurous world of bush-pilot biologists chasing wild birds in the no-man's-land north of the Arctic Circle. Their world is one of beauty, grit, humor and science. The tundra swans they study venture back and forth across the narrow stretch of water that separates Alaska and Russia. This east-west connection is what endangers the birds, and potentially the humans that interact with them. (Winner of the Science Award, Imagine Science Film Festival 2011)

June 13 2012

Treasured green spaces - your Green shoots photographs

In May we asked you to submit photos of the green spaces that you treasure; the places that restore you and make you happy just to be there. And here they are



May 28 2012

Lynette Wallworth: the alien world of coral reefs

The Australian artist reflects on her underwater film, Coral: Rekindling Venus, which premieres to coincide with a rare astronomical event

Timing is always important in art but it is nothing less than crucial when your project is tied to an event so rare that it will happen next month – and then not again for 105 years.

The Australian artist Lynette Wallworth is in that position. She spoke of her hugely ambitious film work that has been five years in the making and will be premiered next month as part of the London 2012 festival, the culmination of the Cultural Olympiad. "It is a call to action," she said. "A harking back to a possibility."

It is inspired by a rare astronomical event, Venus's transit of the sun, when that planet passes directly between the sun and Earth. The transits come in pairs, few and far between – 2004, 5-6 June this year and then not again until 2117 and 2125. The previous pair was in 1874 and 1882 and before that 1761 and 1769.

It is the 18th-century transits that have particularly fascinated Wallworth because they led to what was perhaps the first example of worldwide scientific co-operation.

One of the big challenges of the age was to work out how big the solar system was and how much distance was there between Earth and the sun. One man occupied with the question was English astronomer Edmund Halley who speculated that observing the transit from extreme parts of the globe would help scientists come close to the calculation.

"He also knew he wouldn't live to see it," said Wallworth. "That was the part of the story that, in the beginning, hooked me in."

Halley wrote a letter to the Royal Observatory, the astronomers of the future, "begging them that when the time came they would go in ships around the world to observe this event".

And they did. It has a resonance today because it was not a problem that could be solved in one place; observers had to be all over the planet – around 120 in 1761 (French, British, Danish, Swedish, German, Italian, Portuguese) and an even more in 1769. It was the reason Captain Cook was in Tahiti.

Some remarkable things happened. The French allowed British ships safe passage, even though the two countries had recently been at war and were far from friends. "It was an undertaking that was for the benefit of all humanity," said Wallworth. "An attempt by countries to act globally for a scientific problem. It was amazing … beautiful, sort of mind boggling. There are so many moments that caught me as an artist."

That inspired her to make a "call to action" film showing the extraordinary, almost alien beauty of coral reefs – one barometer of climate change. "Coral is the canary in the coalmine of the ocean," the artist said. "They can handle very little temperature change. It is impossible for us to imagine a sky without stars but we have to be able to contemplate an ocean without coral and they are extraordinary communities."

Wallworth commissioned filming by underwater cinematographers, including the Emmy award-winning Australian David Hannan who shot around three-quarters of it. The film is strange and beautiful to look at and will be even more incredible for viewers as it will be shown at planetariums across the world.

"People will think they are in space, think they are moving through stars," said Wallworth.

Almost trance-inducing music has come from artists including Antony and the Johnsons and the Australian Aboriginal singer Gurrumul.

Wallworth said the film is "a harking back to a possibility. Is there a way to think forward, like Halley did, in terms of imagining what we might need to do? Is there a possibility of acting in unison?"

The film will initially be shown at planetariums in 25 cities across the world but Wallworth hopes it will have a life beyond that. She said: "I'm hoping it will build a new audience and that is part of what makes it exciting."

• Lynette Wallworth's Coral: Rekindling Venus will launch on 6 June and be shown at the Royal Observatory planetarium in Greenwich, London from 7 June-6 July and the Birmingham planetarium at various dates in June.


guardian.co.uk © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


May 14 2012

TERRA 708: Trapped!

How do you film wild animals that don't want to be filmed? That is the question Emily Narrow faces as a student wildlife filmmaker in Bozeman, Montana. Trapped! is a short documentary film about remote wildlife cameras, and Emily's attempt to use these cameras to connect with nature. The film follows her as she sets her first camera traps, and tries to get the kind of intimate portraits of wildlife that have eluded her so far. Trapped! takes a lighthearted look at Emily's successes and failures at camera trapping, while highlighting the simple joy that comes from connecting with nature.

December 14 2011

Beauty and the beast: Frozen Planet does not deserve a tabloid mauling

The press has attacked the BBC documentary over its use of zoo footage. But the Beeb has shown us the beauty in the world in a way that puts the ugly side of tabloid journalism to shame

It seems like only yesterday that I was calling for positive images of journalists. But nothing has ever made me as angry with the press as recent attacks on the BBC documentary Frozen Planet.

I can see the horror of the hacking scandal and the revelations it is unleashing at the Leveson inquiry, of course. But I love to see beauty revealed in the world, and that is what Frozen Planet achieved. I find some newspapers' attempts to undermine this televisual masterpiece and its narrator David Attenborough more repulsive than I can say.

To recap: Frozen Planet showed television audiences this autumn a world that 99% of us will never visit. It sent cameras to the volcano Erebus that belches heat into the Antarctic ice, and under the frozen crust of the Arctic seas. It was rightly adored and acclaimed.

Then a completely standard and legitimate technique, openly explained on the BBC website, of filming in zoos, or the studio, images that cannot conceivably be recorded in the wild, was "discovered" (but it wasn't secret) and "exposed" (but it wasn't wrong). Now tabloid papers are full of self-righteous fury against the Beeb and its most legendary broadcaster.

No one who has admired these programmes can take the accusations seriously. They won't damage the programme in the long term, any more than similar claims damaged its predecessor The Blue Planet. The sheer abundance of rare and unprecedented images in these programmes dwarfs the supposed flaws their critics fixate on.

For me it raises a horrible question. Is newspaper journalism a destructive enterprise?

The BBC at its best is a creative force; it adds to people's lives. Some papers' urge to besmirch one of its greatest achievements begs the question – what do such newspapers add to anyone's life? Where is the beauty in their pages? Frozen Planet opens windows in the imagination. The tabloid attacks reveal that some sections of the British press are the enemies of imagination, education, beauty and – yes – truth.


guardian.co.uk © 2011 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


November 11 2011

October 31 2011

GDT European Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2011 – in pictures

Stoic muskox, abstract lava images and stunning landscapes all feature in this year's GDT awards



TERRA 614: Feeding the Problem

What began in 1912 as a gracious effort to save the Jackson Hole elk herd from harsh winters, shrinking habitat, and dwindling forage, has morphed into a century-long feeding program on what is now the National Elk Refuge and 22 other State-run feed grounds. This biological experiment has created a petri dish for wildlife disease and is now one of the most contentious, fiercely debated issues in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Feeding the Problem is a balanced and in-depth exploration of this unique conservation dilemma from the people most intimately connected to it.

September 22 2011

The Sea: the first wonder of the world – in pictures

Images from The Sea, a stunning photography collection published this month



September 15 2011

TERRA 701: Connecting the Gems

Wildlife biologist Gregg Treinish and filmmaker Deia Schlosberg hike 520 miles along one of the most important wildlife corridors in North America. The two adventurers seek to gain a better understanding of the health of the region from an animal's eye point-of-view by assessing habitat and by monitoring corridor usage, as well as barriers to movement and human-related development along the journey.
TERRA 701: Connecting the Gems

Wildlife biologist Gregg Treinish and filmmaker Deia Schlosberg hike 520 miles along one of the most important wildlife corridors in North America. The two adventurers seek to gain a better understanding of the health of the region from an animal's eye point-of-view by assessing habitat and by monitoring corridor usage, as well as barriers to movement and human-related development along the journey.

August 12 2011

David Measures obituary

Artist inspired by the natural world who was the first to paint live butterflies in flight

Paintings of butterflies used to be done entirely from dead specimens. David Measures, who has died aged 73 of complications from leukaemia, was the first artist to paint them flying in their natural habitats. He painted all of the British species, from the common cabbage white to the extremely rare large blue. David was a pioneering original in world terms – not just a superb naturalist, but also an inspired painter who extended the language of art.

David was born in Warwick. His childhood was idyllic. The family lived in the tiny Old Toll Cottage, tucked below Warwick Castle on the banks of the river Avon. As a boy, he spent every spare moment exploring the countryside, rowing and swimming in the river. Nature called to him all his life. He expressed it beautifully: "There is a magnet in me drawn to the subtle sense-aura of wild freedom, the porous exchange apparent in wild places and the richness of variety and subtlety which I miss inside a building."

He had always drawn, and did so outdoors from the age of seven. When the time came to decide whether to pursue his interest in the science of natural history or develop his love of art, he chose the latter. The need to praise was stronger in him than the need to analyse. He studied at colleges in mid-Warwickshire, then Bournemouth, and finally the Slade School of Art in London. Like many of his contemporaries, he was excited by the panache of postwar American artists, and his work became increasingly abstract.

In 1964 he took up a lecturing post at Nottingham College of Art (now Nottingham Trent University) and settled in a 15th-century cottage in the nearby town of Southwell, with his wife, Christine, also an artist, and their daughter, Sally, soon to be followed by their son, Simon. Like the medieval stonemasons who carved the uniquely realistic foliage in Southwell Minster's splendid chapterhouse, David found his inspiration in the lush local countryside.

It was in the late 1960s that his particular interest in butterflies emerged. What drew him to them was his fascination with the effects of colour on the retina, a concern of many op artists at that time. As he began making studies of the iridescence on their wings, he found himself drawn into these creatures' lives, wondering what made them chase each other, what they did in the rain, where they went at night. The intimacy he had felt with nature as a child welled up inside him. He wrote of those rare times when "after a period of watching, your particular butterfly character appears to become reconciled to your presence, seems to allow a trust to exist, whereby both of you take part, each functioning in your own way, freely and co-existent".

It became his life's work to paint these moments, and he developed remarkable skills to capture them. You have to be very quick and agile to paint butterflies in flight, and your equipment must be light: a drawing pad, or sheets of paper clipped to a board, and a tiny box of paints. David learned to do without brushes and water. Amazingly, his delicate, energetic paintings were mostly done with his fingertips and spit; fine details were picked out with his nails. He used a child's multicoloured biro to record his observations of what was going on, because he wasn't creating pictures to hang on walls, but experiencing life as fully as one can. He wrote of the importance of being able to be absolutely still. He told of how one day he was standing in a clump of heather, wrapped up in an overcoat and scarf, when two walkers passed by. "What's that scarecrow doing there?" he heard one ask, as he remained motionless, smiling inside.

Slowly, but surely, his work gained a reputation in the field of natural history (though recognition by the art world still awaits). In 1973 he was featured in the programme David's Meadow, for David Bellamy's BBC TV series Bellamy's Britain. His book Bright Wings of Summer, illustrated with paintings and vivid texts, came out in 1976. He spent every moment he could out in the field, painting and observing all the British species, producing page after page of wonderful coloured studies: butterfly days, each dated and timed from dawn till dusk – a remarkable diary of life in nature. These were later bound in yearbooks, and one was published in 1996 as Butterfly Season: 1984.

David's interest in the natural world widened, and he painted the life of a wood and an old orchard as they changed through the seasons. The fruits of his four-year observation of a hobby falcon – a surprise visitor to Southwell – are to be published by subscription in his memory. He taught regularly at a summer school in Scotland run by his friend John Busby, based around the Bass Rock, and inspired new generations of wildlife artists. Defying a congenital disorder that made him unable to sweat, he began to travel regularly to Spain and Italy, excited by the brilliant southern light and unfamiliar species.

He also began to paint landscapes for their own sake. Experimental as ever, he developed an original technique using small rollers and stencils to create luminous yet rigorous designs that capture permanence and transience. These little, jewel-like paintings open in the mind's eye like butterfly's wings, letting us glimpse patterns of being that outlast death.

This work gained a deeper resonance after David's first bout of leukaemia in 2003. His subsequent paintings of Cressbrook Dale in Derbyshire, where he had been painting regularly since 1993, chart a remarkable re-emergence of the two aspects of his life, art and nature, infused with his sheer joy at being alive. People lucky enough to know him felt uplifted by his exuberance.

He is survived by Christine, Sally and Simon, and four grandchildren.

• David Guy Measures, painter, born 22 November 1937; died 4 August 2011


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August 01 2011

Quaking giants

Taking pictures of ancient trees allows us to share and document their connection to our past – and preserve their place in our future

Send your photos of ancient trees to our Flickr group

In the small Dorset village of Tolpuddle there is a sycamore tree on a patch of green, just a short stroll from a pub. This gnarled old tree is a key player in a compelling story. It is here that a group of agricultural labourers met to discuss demands for better pay, in effect creating the first ever trade union. The rest is history. Already more than 150 years old when the labourers met under this tree in the 1830s, it's still going strong with loving help.

Ancient trees with rich tales can be found across the UK. They are the silent witnesses to the story of these isles that we live on.

But how do we know what an ancient tree is? An ancient tree is one which is very old in comparison with other trees of the same species. There is no strict definition as to what age a tree must be to be considered ancient, but a 600-year-old oak tree or 300-year-old beech tree would qualify. Yew trees can live for several thousand years and oak and sweet chestnut for 1,000 years or more.

From the symbolic and much-loved oak to the majestic beech, trees connect us to our past and will be here for future generations to enjoy. They have provided us with shelter and played a key part in powering the expanding military and fuelling the industrial revolution.

They have played a key part in our history. It was under a yew tree at Runnymede in Berkshire that the Magna Carta was signed. A flower of Kent apple tree in the grounds of Woolsthorpe Manor in Lincolnshire proved decisive in Sir Isaac Newton's theory of gravity.

In many ways they are taken for granted. Unlike our built heritage with its listings status and preservation orders, ancient trees have no such protection. They remain potentially vulnerable to damage and neglect.

The National Trust is currently carrying out an audit of all its ancient trees, thought to number around 40,000 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. This data will then be fed into the Ancient Tree Hunt which will provide us with, for the first time ever, a clear picture of where these titans of nature can be found.

This island really is a superpower when it comes to its ancient trees. We escaped the ravages of conflict that blighted mainland Europe in the 20th century and many of our older trees have survived the race to modernise. It's hard to imagine our countryside without these wise old trees.

Stand next to any ancient tree and you get that sense of wonder at the sights and sounds it will have witnessed down the generations. They provide a sense of reassurance, majesty and power. These trees have been the centre of communities down the ages as places to gather and their loss is something that affects everyone.

Capturing these wonders of the natural world on camera has endless possibilities. Their location and prominence in the landscape can create moody and atmospheric pictures. Whether they are in a church yard, one of many in parkland or isolated in a farmer's field. Close–up shots will find a deeper meaning in their bark and the creatures, such as beetles and woodpeckers that call them home or the fungi and lichen that cling to their trunks and branches.

It's also worth thinking of taking pictures of ancient trees in the same way as portraiture photography. They all have their own unique characteristics and can create wonderful and iconic images.

There is something really special about ancient trees which captivates and intrigues us. Taking photographs of these figures in the landscape allows us to share and document what they mean to society.

Send your photos of ancient trees to our Flickr group

Brian Muelaner is the National Trust's ancient tree adviser.


guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2011 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


May 05 2011

2011 International Garden Photographer of the year - in pictures

Winning images from the world's premier competition and exhibition specialising in garden, plant, flower and botanical photography



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