|In the wilds of Patagonia with a not so wild Chilean fox|
Most of these films stressed the need to protect our planet’s natural resources and I have produced films about oceans, jungles, savannas, lakes and mountains. Film stories have included an extraordinary expedition to the New Guinea Highlands with Sir David Attenborough looking for natives that had never seen white men, polar bears in the Arctic, penguins in Antarctica, fish and whales in Alaska, tigers in India, leopards in Africa, mountain lions in South America and snow leopards in Ladakh – I like cats!
Closer to home, there are subjects that are just as important. Our freshwater world is threatened by lack of water [not recently!] and the UK has already suffered dramatic declines in fish and other aquatic wildlife.
|The source of the gem-like River Allen|
Chalk streams support some of the richest diversity of wildlife anywhere in Europe but we abstract the life blood out of them and kill the animals by the bucket load. Pollution is widespread, silt off farmland a nightmare for fish and invertebrates. Some streams have already dried up. Everything is Dead.
So as a life-long film-maker, my passion for the natural world and determination to try to make a difference is un-diminished. Over many years I have become increasingly aware of how almost all TV, the media and conservation organisations ignore our threatened freshwater world, notably the fish and other aquatic wildlife that lives below the surface.
The crystal clear, chalk stream waters of the River Allen and the unique wildlife it supports makes it one of the most important rivers in Europe and for years it’s been my ambition to bring it’s fish and other watery wildlife into the consciousness of the local community.
The river is only thirteen miles long but it is a little jewel
flowing through the Dorset countryside. It provides a haven for species such as
wild brown trout, the endangered white clawed crayfish and the fastest
declining mammal in Britain, the water vole, this is just one of only a few
rivers in England that achieve ‘good ecological status’. More than two thirds
of our rivers fail and for starters, if we want to save them, we have to save
|'Liquid Gold' - the upper reaches of the River Allen|
|No doubt catching more than me|
My dream is to have permanent underwater cameras set in the River Allen, with viewing facilities for the public and school children in the Allendale Centre and Waitrose in Wimborne. These will provide live images to a TV screen surrounded by educational material, along with a DVD player to show films and pre-recorded images that will be played when nothing is visible on the cameras in the river.
Luckily, the Dorset Wildlife Trust, [who we’ve supported for thirty or more years], has a ‘Wild Rivers Project’, led in East Dorset by Amanda Broom. We needed £5,000 to put the screen and u/w camera in the river and DWT successfully raised the funding to do so. Bravo to them. The first stage is complete, with the screen and several school parties already taking advantage of this educational facility in the Allendale Community Centre alongside the river. The enthusiasm of the children is wonderful and with several talks and film shows with Amanda already completed, we have done a little to raise the profile of our precious fish and other wildlife.
|roach and chub|