What an incredible planet we live on. Time and again I am reminded of how magnificently beautiful our cosmically infinitesimal blue ball is. Often these reminders come when I venture out into a natural space like a park or wildlife refuge that has preserved or recreated some section of non-urban environment for a number of flora and fauna species. I am lucky enough to have a few critical marsh, swamp, and forest habitats around me, as well as unique oak savanna, and the riparian (river) and liminal (lake) habitats that occur in the Great Lakes region, and I enjoy these spaces to the fullest. Yesterday, I saw my first flock of American White Pelicans at the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge on the northern Ohio shore of Lake Erie. Yeah, there are pelicans in the Great Lakes! They, like many other bird species, frequently pass through the region when migrating. I am privileged to get to see a wide array of bird and other animal species, as well as plants and fungi, thanks to my proximity to the largest freshwater system in the world. Additionally, I live in an ecologically important area that is valued by its local citizens, which helps to protect these spaces. When people care about the natural spaces around them, they feel inclined to preserve them so that they remain for their enjoyment, and the enjoyment of others and future generations. I’m sure the wildlife also appreciate the safeguarding of such places as they serve as a necessary source of shelter, food, and water.
As great as preserves like Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge and its fellow lakeside parks and protected spaces are, there are still so many habitats throughout the United States that are being devastated by human action. Whether it be habitat destruction for industry or residential expansion; accidental damage through chemical and oil spills; climate change; or invasive species introduction, Americans are still doing harm to the natural areas around them, thereby negatively affecting the wildlife that live there. In many other countries, especially poorer and lesser-developed nations, there is even more natural damage, and even desolation. However, here in the States there is a lot of effort -and also quite importantly federal and state money – being put toward habitat protection and restoration. This is good for the living things around us, but also for us too. For example, wetlands like the marshes and swamps I mentioned earlier are pivotal in cleaning contaminants out of water that we often use for our daily needs, especially drinking. Furthermore, wetlands are helpful in managing excess water from storms to prevent flooding in the surrounding areas. This is but one example of beneficial natural habitat preservation.
Okay, so we’ve all heard that trees and flowers and baby deer are nice, and you probably enjoy seeing them, but why should you care so much about the preservation of natural habitats around you? Well, if you live in the US or other well developed nations with the care and capital to maintain and reclaim natural areas, then you are lucky enough to have some of these spaces already, and you may take them for granted like I used to. When I was a kid, I routinely went out to the parks around my house with my dad to look for birds and other wildlife. I marveled at how many places there were, and since the world always looks bigger through a child’s eyes, it seemed like they were especially huge. As I stated, I do live in an area with a lot of protected habitats, and in fact there is more of it than when I was a child. Nevertheless, I now realize that these spaces are relatively tiny compared to the urban and suburban developed areas where we all live. Around my home there is even more of this area too, and the human habitats have outgrown the wild ones. The extra natural areas that have been designated protected spaces have mainly been made such in reaction to the overreaching of human development, not purely out of the kindness of our hearts for our natural neighbors. I understand that we live in an ever-growing world, and that it is difficult to get everyone on board to setting aside land (and water) to be left for our feathered and furred friends. It can expensive, and that space could be utilized for something useful to humanity, like a library, fire station, or indoor trampoline park. Despite all this, I am convinced that we should, whenever and wherever possible, preserve and restore natural areas to ensure that there is still wilderness in the world.
My words may be a middling effort to persuade you to share my opinion, but I am not alone in my sentiment. A group of international individuals have united and utilized a much more effective tool for education and inspiration is to show and explain the natural wonders of the world. So if you roll your eyes at my pleas for conservation, glue them to the screen with the majesty of our home that is showcased beautifully by the BBC Natural History crew in their nature documentary series. The high-definition sequences of the filmmakers coupled with the dulcet tones of Sir David Attenborough make for the grandest of nature films which better than any others display the even grander goings-on of Earth in all its glory. The finest of these is the Planet Earth series that debuted ten years ago. Planet Earth was ground-breaking, presented the spectacle of not just big animals on the African savanna, but fauna (animals) and flora (plants) of all sizes from all over the world. Additionally, the series looked at other biota (living things) like fungi, and even non-living things like cave crystals and other geological structures. What sets Planet Earth apart from other still great nature documentaries is its comprehensive coverage of the life and environments of our world. BBC Natural History has produced some other fantastic documentaries before and since Planet Earth, such as The Blue Planet, Life, and Frozen Planet. You can watch the complete Planet Earth series on Netflix, and there are clips on BBC One’s website.
Earlier this year in February, BBC announced they would release another Planet Earth series, and they will sometime in November. We got our first looks at what the series holds last week with the release of a trailer on October 9th, followed by an extended trailer on Mach 1 Day.
As I stated before, when people care about the natural places and inhabitants around them they want to protect them. First they must learn about them, and documentaries like Planet Earth help to introduce people to such areas while educating about what depends on each space. I look forward to seeing the follow-up to the greatest nature documentary ever filmed and learning more about the awesome Earth we all share.
Thanks for reading. Check out Planet Earth if you have not already, and maybe rewatch it if you have. It and it’s fellow BBC Natural History documentaries are all worth another viewing. I hope you’ll also return here next week, and send me any questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The time is now,