Areas of deforestation | Still from "earthrise" episode "Protecting Precious Landscapes"
S1 E17: Rewilding Patagonia

Rewilding Patagonia

Three-quarters of all land on Earth is now significantly affected by human activity and the few remaining pockets of wilderness are themselves at risk of becoming ecological deserts. Agriculture, industry, urbanization, climate change — all these are decimating ecosystems and destroying biodiversity. Some 60 percent of the world's animals have been wiped out since the 1970s.

In response, a worldwide movement is under way to "rewild" the countryside. Rewilding is the restoration of an entire ecosystem to its natural state, by removing foreign species while reintroducing and protecting native ones. It begins with the removal of livestock, allowing vegetation to flourish. This encourages insects and other animals, attracting birds and other small predators. Removing fences allows for the return of herbivores, which are preyed on by apex predators — those at the top of the food chain — which then also multiply. 

One rewilding initiative — right at the tip of South America, in Chile's Patagonia — is exceeding all expectations. There, two philanthropists, Kris McDivitt Tompkins and her late husband Doug Tompkins, have helped create one of the largest national parks in the world. Kris, the founder and CEO of the clothing brand Patagonia, and Doug, the founder of Esprit and North Face spent $345m buying up vast tracts of land for restoration and rewilding.

In what has become recognized as the biggest land donation in history, Tompkins has handed 400,000 hectares over to the Chilean state to be run as national parks, alongside four million hectares of land contributed by the state.

Available until
2019-09-18T00:00:00-07:00

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Protecting Precious Landscapes

To cope with our growing population we have tripled our exploitation of natural resources in just 40 years. As a result of the vast expansion of mining, industrial-scale farming, fishing and other human activities, natural ecosystems have lost nearly half of their area, and one million plant and animal species are facing extinction. Without the ecological networks which regulate our planet — from cleaning air and water to providing food — we simply cannot survive.

  • 2019-09-21T05:30:00-07:00
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Life After Conflict

earthrise explores the environmental consequences of war and how different people, from Rohingya refugees to Syrian scientists, are trying to restore a healthy relationship with nature.

Fighting Insectageddon: Why Bugs Matter

"earthrise" travels to the U.K. and New Zealand to meet the scientists trying to stop the decline of insect populations.

Air: Changing the Atmosphere

Every year seven million people die from air pollution. It's the world's biggest environmental killer.

Italy is Europe's most polluted country: in 2012, more than 84,000 people in the country died prematurely owing to bad air quality. To combat this, scientists have developed a new type of photocatalytic cement that absorbs pollutants and turns them into harmless salts. 

Turning The Tide On Plastic: Creation and Art From Waste

Cheap and versatile, plastic is used for everything. The problem is, it's also indestructible. As a result, it piles up in landfills where it leeches toxic chemicals into soil and groundwater, or ends up in the ocean affecting wildlife and getting into food chains.

Approximately 268,000 tonnes of plastic float in our oceans - that's five trillion individual pieces. If nothing changes, it is estimated that by 2050 there will be more plastic by weight than fish in our oceans.

  • 2019-10-03T18:30:00-07:00
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Food: Farming for the Future

Climate change has disrupted weather patterns across the globe, destroying farmland and increasing pest outbreaks. As a result, both the livelihoods of farmers and food supplies have been pushed to breaking point.

"earthrise" sets off to South Africa and Nepal to see how some newly developed solutions are helping farmers to produce food for a growing population as conditions change.

Food for Thought

A look at the state of global food security amid rising concerns about the world population and climate change.

In New Haven, Connecticut, a community of scientists, fishermen and foodies are redefining their relationship with the sea using 3D ocean farming. In Africa, farmer-managed natural regeneration is restoring farmland to improve food security. In Holland, scientists are racing to future proof our planet against our love of meat.

  • 2019-10-10T18:30:00-07:00
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Winds of Change

A look at how communities in India and Denmark have adjusted their way of living, turning it into a greener alternative.

In Denmark, see how a 100%-renewable community on Samso Island is investing in its own green society. In India, a new method of cremation is helping Hindu tradition become more environmentally friendly.

Forest-Friendly Fires

In a busy market in the Ugandan capital of Kampala, a group of women gather to cook. While the dishes they prepare are traditional, the brightly coloured stoves they cook on are new.

The locally made Ugastove, which requires on average half the amount of charcoal of traditional cookers, saves money in reduced fuel costs, cuts carbon emissions and reduces deforestation.

  • 2019-10-17T18:30:00-07:00
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