The storytellers behind conservation awareness

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Douglas Broom, Senior Writer, Formative Content

  • A birdsong album featuring endangered species was a chart hit in Australia.
  • It’s just one of the innovative ways in which conservationists are raising awareness.
  • From dance projects to swimming feats, human stories help people engage with nature.

Birdsong is beautiful, but is it rock and roll? Well, at the end of 2021, Australia’s music industry was stunned when a digital album featuring the songs of native birds went straight into the pre-Christmas music charts at number five.

In the week of December 13, following a successful social-media campaign, Songs of Disappearance bumped established artists like Abba, Adele and The Weeknd down the Aria album charts.

Featuring 53 of Australia’s most endangered bird species, reached its highest overall chart position a week later at number three.

The project was produced by nature sound recordist Dave Stewart and the Bowerbird Collective, a pair of musicians who create multimedia conservation stories designed to strengthen their audiences’ connection with nature.

“It’s absolutely incredible to have knocked Michael Buble, Mariah Carey and a whole bunch of other really famous artists out of the [top five],” the collective’s co-founder Anthony Albrecht, a PhD student at Charles Darwin University (CDU), told ABC News.

“In some ways, it’s not surprising, because I believe Australians generally are so much more attuned now to the environmental crisis that we’re all facing – and that the unique and incredible species that also call Australia home are facing.”

The album’s digital release highlighted a new study launched on December 1 by CDU and BirdLife Australia. The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2020 states that 216 of Australia’s 1,299 bird species are currently under threat of extinction – 21 more than previously thought. Of the 77 species at risk from fires, 26 now face increased peril as a result of the 2019-20 bushfires.

Songs of Disappearance is one of a number of innovative conservation activities raising awareness around the world. Here are some other ways people are connecting with audiences to get them involved in saving our planet.

Dancing for the oceans

Tricia Greaux is a Marine Resource Officer responsible for conserving the Marine Protected Areas around the island state of St Kitts and Nevis in the Caribbean. She’s also a dancer, choreographer and founder and director of the Anjolique Dance Company.

The group’s conservation dance projects include ‘Eat Lion Fish’, which encourages people to help reduce this invasive species by eating them, and ‘Protect the Narrows’ that aims to build support for a conservation area covering the strait between the two main islands.

Going nearly nude for nature

Zoos South Australia, a charity that supports Adelaide Zoo and Monarto Safari Park, was looking for a way to engage people in its conservation work. Inspired by nearly-nude calendars featuring farmers, firefighters and Women’s Institute members, its staff decided to create their own.

Titled Conservation Uncovered the calendar features “tastefully disrobed” members of the charity’s team and aims to raise money and awareness of the organization’s 25 conservation projects in Australia and around the world.

Swimming the Arctic

UN Patron of the Seas Lewis Pugh draws attention to the plight of the oceans by undertaking extreme swimming feats. In August 2021 he spent 12 days swimming 7.8km across the Ilulissat Icefjord in Greenland in what was described as the “coldest swim on Earth”.

“Data and science are absolutely crucial, but we aren’t moved necessarily by data, but by human stories of what is happening and how this will be impacting all of us,” said Pugh, a former World Economic Forum Young Global Leader.

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