It's come as a rude awakening to me that the degradation of our natural world is inline with a societal mass disconnect from our landscape and wildlife. A result of which isn't good for any of us or any living thing on earth.
I believe this disconnect can be attributed to a number of issues like lack of access to wildlife, habitat loss or the privatisation of land.
Although I have discovered other methods to combat this, my filmmaking for example, action must come from what we learn. Mass societal movement, as history has taught us, is also key for challenging these issues. It’s integral to achieving the change that we need.
I initially, and still do, engage with wildlife conservation as an integral part of protecting our biodiversity. Although it’s true that putting in the groundwork like wildlife conservation is a necessity… We must also challenge the system that we operate in and the way we live as a society. Sometimes if a woodland faces the chainsaw or legislation is put forward that comprises our wildlife, mass movement can be key to institutional, societal and political change.
Biodiversity is at a tipping point and through my career I've come to accept it's going to take a lot of noise to achieve the positive change our wildlife so desperately needs.
From a young age I had a real passion for the natural world with a particular interest in identifying insects. Naively, as a child, I thought I'd found everything there was to see... until one spring my parents started renovating the garden. Handed to me were a number of pupa and chrysalis dug up from deep under the ground. A few weeks later an array of moth species started to emerge from the pupa I was given. The striking pink of the large elephant hawk moth or the dazzling apricot of the orange underwing captivated me. These animals being nocturnal in nature had meant they had evaded my gaze. I had seen many of the butterflies in the UK, we have 60 species here altogether, but compared to the 2,500 species of moth... I realised my wildlife journey had just begun.
Working with Butterflies
In 2016 I started working with the Wildlife Trusts (A wildlife charity in the UK). A Wildlife Trusts nature reserve local to me were working to protect one of the UK’s rarest butterflies, the Heath Fritillary. This was extremely exciting to me given my particular interest in moth and butterflies. This experience opened up the world of wildlife conservation for me and inspired me to start communicating this to anyone and everyone.
A Lightbulb Switched On!
Calling back to my experience as a child, I felt the elusive world of moths could be a gateway to get people engaging with wildlife. Growing older I could see the world becoming ever more disenfranchised from wildlife, which in my belief, is at the core of today's climate and ecological emergency. Many of us now live lives of instant gratification meaning the pursuit, patience and persistence it takes to see our elusive wildlife has faded... but what if we could bring this wildlife to us? Moths are obsessed with light, flick on a lightbulb and they come to you, making it really easy for people to engage with an animal they rarely get to see. Furthermore they can be colourful, fluffy and they don't sting or bite so the fear of harm can be removed. When using a 'moth light lure' some species may even sit on your hand or stay still. The same can't be said for butterflies but the caterpillars of both moths and butterflies are also colourful and easy to handle too.
The years have passed since 2016, the Heath Fritillary numbers have quadrupled at the reserve where I worked, which truly gives me hope. To give other people more hope about conservation, I feel much like in my own experience, they need to engage with it. Whether it be with the tweet of a bird or the flap of a moth... I hope to do the best I can to engage all audiences, all walks of life, to connect with the natural world around us.