AFON Guest Blog: Here’s to a green 2017!

(My post for A Focus On Nature)

For 2017, what I would like is Nature Conservation to be taken more seriously by Councils and the Government.  They need to properly see it as a Universal Problem.  It is not an issue only for a certain class system, region, gender, sexuality, age or level of education – we all share this country, and caring for nature and our natural environment is everybody’s responsibility.  Hopefully Planet Earth II was a wake up call for those that work for a Town / City Council or as an MP who have not signed the Greener UK pledge.
I also hope it has encouraged people to support their local nature conservation charities.

Hearing about woodland / greenbelt being decimated for housing developments (or HS2) angers me – it is disgusting and very ill considered, as there are plenty of derelict buildings and brownfield sites that should be used instead!  Urbanisation is not progression, it’s alienation.  There is less crime in places with woodland / greenbelt and it reduces stress in people of all ages.  They are great for escapism, as they’re somewhere to walk your dog or get fresh air alone or with your partner or friend(s).  Such places boost children’s will to learn and they are often more imaginative and creative – it’s somewhere for these children to explore and find wildlife too!  It also improves house sales – people want to live near areas surrounded by greenery, because, let’s face it, it is pleasant!  Trees, hedgerows and grasses filter impurities from the air and also help lower temperatures during heat-waves.  Trees reduce erosion of soil, which finds its way into our waterways during periods of heavy rainfall.  This then has the knock on effect of creating flooding because of the build up of silt – due to the lack of trees in the first place.  They are also a much needed habitat for nature; plants and animals need somewhere to live and have safe connecting passages between urban sprawls.

Re-wilding our Towns and Cities needs to happen, all over, they should be made greener than they already are, for example Birmingham, it is already a surprisingly green city, but being greener will make it better.  I champion Matt Collis and the Avon Wildlife Trust for making Bristol even greener!  As you know, more trees are needed to helping fight Climate Change, as they reduce the Carbon Dioxide in our atmosphere.  More trees will increase oxygen and with increased oxygen levels, the health of people and wildlife will benefit. More oxygen in the air can stabilise unknown and potential pulmonary hypertension (raised blood pressure within the pulmonary arteries) and irregular heart rhythms caused by the lack of oxygen in the air.  Plus more oxygen to the brain relieves depression and fatigue.  Many diseases including cancer, thrive in an oxygen depleted body.

Longbridge in south Birmingham

What would I like for myself this New Year?  Well, I am currently on a City & Guilds Level 3 Diploma in Conservation, Countryside & The Environment – ideally I would like to complete my qualification at overall Distinction and would then like to work for a NGO specialising in Re-wilding, therefore assisting in restoring Britain (in urban and rural places too) to its natural glory!

In the past I have achieved several Media Production qualifications, my highest being a Level 5 Higher National Diploma.  I have considered a Masters, but Academia isn’t really for me, I would rather be out there getting on with it, or even teaching it!  Around 6 years ago I combined my passion for wildlife and filmmaking, and have recently been co-presenting / co-producing a series with Jamie Wyver, about nature conservation for Cambridge TV (now called That’s Cambridge).

Filming for The Wild Side

The series is entitled The Wild Side and it was broadcast to the city and has been put online for everyone to watch.  It would be brilliant if I get the opportunity to present a series with another TV station or even for a channel that broadcasts nationally.  I love how imaginative and creative ideas can come to life on screen, to entertain and inform an audience.

Thanks for reading  🙂

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Video

Day 2 – 30 Days Wild

Day2

For my second day of the challenge, I wanted it to be something more ‘proactive’ and it to require being outdoors.  Also, if it was to be a video, then I wanted it to be considerably better than my first one.  It had stopped raining, so I couldn’t do “Dance in a downpour”…

DECISIONS
Early in the afternoon, my friend Gary came to help choose what I was going to do for Day 2 of 30 Days Wild.  I was quite inspired and had several ideas (thanks to the handy challenge booklet provided by The Wildlife Trust) which I was going to put my spin on and make a film of.  I found it quite difficult to decide which one to go with!  I briefed Gary on all the ideas and how – with his help – I’d like to execute them (so to speak), in the end we agreed upon “Give your favourite tree a cuddle”.

PRE-PRODUCTION
My spin on the idea; was that I cannot pick one individual tree as my favourite!  And to create a fun video of how I had to hug 4 of my favourite species of tree, 2 of which I have a connection with…  Of course I hug a few other trees too!  Haha.
There wasn’t a script exactly, I just finalised what I wanted to say etc.

TREE HUGGER
I didn’t have to travel far for the first tree, it is quite close to my family home.  All of the trees in fact weren’t too far away.  I decided I would do the Intro and Outro for the video at an ancient woodland/nature reserve approx 10 minutes walk away, Balaam’s Wood – where I became generous with my hugs.  The second and third tree weren’t too far away from the first, the fourth was located in a country park approx 5 minutes walk away – but it is deep into the country park!  So in all it took around 35 minutes to get to!  I will reveal more about this particular country park and it’s name another time 😉

TIME
Due to starting it in the afternoon, I was very much aware that time was not going to be on our side.  Obviously we had to allow for any last minute changes to the filming schedule and for any possible outtakes, but there was strictly no dilly-dallying!  Editing took time, naturally, as you have to import the footage onto your computer and choose what clips that are wanted and needed and so on.  I am very grateful that Gary stuck around for this process, his opinion helped a lot.  It was great getting feedback from a ‘viewers’ point of view, so there were a few chops and changes before the finished film.

I wanted it to upload quicker to YouTube, so I chose a Standard Definition preset – resulting in it unfortunately appearing a little small in frame.

To see the final edit and find out the trees I chose and hugged click here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQ2MRENaeQY