Are we changing life on Earth by etssetcf


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                         Are we changing life on Earth?

                                23rd April 2007
                             Washington D.C., U.S.A.



Katie Frohardt
Executive Director
Fauna & Flora International, Inc.
P.O. Box 42575
Washington, D.C. 20015-0575

+1 202 329 672
                             Video transcript: Are we changing life on Earth

Are we changing life on Earth?

23rd April 2007
Washington D.C., U.S.A.

Melissa Shackleton Dann: Good evening everyone my name is Melissa Shackleton Dann
and I’m the Chair of the Board of Fauna & Flora International, the U.S. board. And it is
wonderful to see so many of you here this evening. I think though most of us are really
here to see Sir David Attenborough. It is a real joy to be able to share an evening with him
and hear some of his reflections about the conservation world that he has so influenced.
I’m going to turn the podium over to Katie Frohardt who is the Executive Director of the
U.S. operation – with great pleasure – and she will provide some more introduction.


Katie Frohardt: Thank you so much and thanks to each and every one of you for joining
us tonight for such a special celebration of international conservation with Sir David

I first learned of the work of Fauna & Flora International more than ten years ago when I
was based in Rwanda running a mountain gorilla program – one of our longest running
programs. This is a program that Sir David actually started many years ago motivating our
earliest efforts to protect the mountain gorillas and creating the program that I later
directed in Rwanda post the 1994 genocide.

In Rwanda, I learned first hand of FFI’s very collaborative approach to conservation,
working in partnership with local and national organizations, and embracing the tough –
but right – challenge of building local capacity so that conservation efforts are locally
driven and locally held.

Listing Sir David’s accomplishments would have me up here for far too long; last year he
was voted the most trusted celebrity in Britain and in the top ten “heroes of our time.”


I had to. I had to.

His Life television series, which is made up of more than 74 programs, is still in production
and Life in Cold Blood (reptiles and amphibians) is due to air in 2008.
The pioneer of nature documentaries, David has attracted more than 500 million viewers
worldwide, bringing us all his powerful images of wildlife and people, and inspiring us with
opportunities and the challenges that protecting our fragile planet presents. Conservation
literacy blossomed as Sir David broadcast from those special places in far corners of the

Sir David’s strong leadership of FFI as Vice-President has been instrumental in guiding so
many of our programs, so it is my great honor to introduce him to you tonight so that he
may share his thoughts on “Are We Changing Life on Earth?”

Please join me in welcoming to Washington, DC, Sir David Attenborough.
                            Video transcript: Are we changing life on Earth


Sir David Attenborough: Fifty years ago the world was very very different place. I was a
young television producer and I decided I wanted to start making natural history films. I
went to the London Zoo and, since I didn’t know anything about Africa or Asia or anything
else except Britain, I thought there would be somebody there who might help me to find
my way through the natural world. And, indeed there was a marvelous man who was
Curator of Reptiles called Jack Lester. And together we cooked up an idea which would
be absolute anathema today. We decided that we would go from the London Zoo to catch
animals in the wild and bring them back to the London Zoo. Now in these days you
wouldn’t dream of doing that. Responsible zoos breed their animals. Responsible zoos
know perfectly well that the stock of animals in the wild is limited. It is not infinite.

We went to Madagascar. I tried to find out about Madagascar from the French and there
was no film – no natural history film at all – at all – made in Madagascar. And those
wonderful ranges of Lemurs which we’ve seen, and which tourists can visit today, had
never been seen on television

And, I’ve had all my life a passion for birds of paradise. And nobody 50 years ago had
filmed wild birds of paradise displaying in the wild. One of the great mind-blowing
experiences, scenes of the natural world. It took us three months before we managed it
and we walked into valleys where no Europeans had been before and it was an
extraordinary unforgettable time.

How things have changed today. A mere 50 years.

And why? There is one huge change that has taken place in those 50 years. And that is
that there are more than twice as many human beings on this planet today as there were
then. There were just something over 2 billion in 1954 now there are more than 6.5 billion.
And the consequences, of course, of that change have been enormous. This huge
expansion in human beings has also demonstrated a very extraordinary fact of homo
sapiens which is that the homo sapiens love to aggregate. It loves to live together.

And thank goodness because if it didn’t – if we didn’t – there’d be no wilderness. If we all
demanded five hectares or whatever it is, we wouldn’t be able to exist. But the
consequences of that is that the majority of the population of this planet – something like
80% are urbanized and 80% are getting further and further away from the natural world.
Another consequence of this huge expansion of our human numbers has been climate
change, which you’ve all heard about and that brings more problems. We have a
responsibility to make sure that people know about the natural world. And paradoxically
they do. People know more about animals on this planet today than they have ever done
before. Even though they are less in touch with it. But unless they are in touch with it,
they won’t care and they won’t do what is necessary in their own lives and with their own
governments and with their own money to conserve that which lies beyond the cities’
limits. My feeling is that the Fauna & Flora International has become one of key societies
the in the world. It was, in its time, a pioneer. It was in fact the first international
conservation body.

Its role, its importance, its value has grown and grown and grown over the 50 years that
I’ve known it and the 100 years it has existed. And it has never been greater than it is
today. So all of you who are joining this great movement to protect the natural world in

                             Video transcript: Are we changing life on Earth

whatever way we can thank – you very much. Your work could have never been more
important. Thank you.


Mark Rose (CEO of Fauna & Flora International): Well in wrapping up I would just like to
say thank you to everybody here tonight. And not just for coming – I’ve noticed we’ve got
in the room tonight not only sponsors and donors, but partners and collaborators from a
broad range of constituencies – all of whom have an input into the work we do. So thank
you all for that. But I’d also like thank Sir David himself for coming. I think we all
recognize what he does as his day job, which is to work tirelessly at producing the best
quality television and film presentations most of which he produces and presents all
himself with a dedicated team, but also he’s been moonlighting all these years as well.
He’s had another job. And that’s to help organizations such Fauna & Flora Preservation
Society – FFI as it is today – move ahead, get ahead, influence, gain ground. He’s done
that for us for the last 50 years since he’s been involved with us. So I’d just like to say a
big thank you to Sir David for that. He doesn’t have to do it. He does in the interest of
conservation, conservation of our planet. So thank you Sir David.


Fauna & Flora International (FFI) is the world's longest established international
conservation body, founded over 100 years ago.

Renowned for its science-based approach, FFI has pioneered sustainable conservation
work that tackles problems holistically, providing solutions that simultaneously help wildlife,
humans and the environment.

FFI acts to conserve threatened species and ecosystems worldwide, choosing solutions
that are sustainable, are based on sound science and take account of human needs.



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