Nature meets culture: A peacebuilding podcast, an African oasis and more

© Leslie Russell

In an era ruled by technology, connecting with nature may seem difficult. But with a little help, you can find nature everywhere. With that in mind, here are a few shows, podcasts and more that can help bring nature to life for you, wherever you are.

1. A podcast about peace and protecting the planet 

As climate breakdown reshapes societies, tensions over ever- scarcer resources are escalating, experts say.

The good news: Protecting nature is proven to not only conserve water and food, it can also help promote peace — and a new podcast explains how. 

Launched by Conservation International and partners, the series “Voices for Peace and Conservation” dives into the links between conservation and conflict prevention. In each episode, the show’s host, Hesta Groenewald, interviews a variety of guests — from Indigenous leaders to climate scientists — about their efforts to tackle both violence and environmental degradation. 

The most recent episode features Conservation International climate scientist Giacomo Fedele and peace expert Lydia Cardona who discuss how nature-based solutions can help countries adapt to the changing climate before it is too late.

“Climate change is already happening, and we need to adjust the way we behave,” Fedele says in the podcast. But how? Fedele points to something he calls “transformative adaptation.” 

Rather than using conventional coping strategies — such as seawalls or irrigation systems — transformative adaptation is “about addressing the root causes of climate vulnerability and the impacts in a proactive way,” says Fedele.

For example, in areas affected by worsening floods a transformative adaptation could include  restoring previously degraded mangroves or other wetlands that can act as a barrier and protect communities against rising sea levels in the long-term. 

However, if nature-based solutions like this are going to work, governments must ensure that local communities are involved in their creation, says Cardona. 

“Conservation is placing big bets on nature-based solutions … focused on protecting and restoring nature to harness its potential for capturing greenhouse gases and helping us to adapt,” she says. “In order to do this, to protect nature and restore lands, you have to work effectively with people and respond to their needs and vulnerabilities.”

2. In an artificial oasis, candid cameras capture the drama of Africa’s wildlife 

Across the African Serengeti, nearly unbearable heat and dry climates make water a precious resource for people and wildlife alike. 

Competition for access to waterholes drives conflict between humans and animals — often with tragic consequences for one or both. 

To investigate the complex dynamics at these wildlife hubs, a group of scientists conjured up a simple — yet effective — plan: build two new waterholes equipped with hidden cameras. 

On the new PBS program “Life at the Waterhole,” viewers join scientists — led by Conservation International CEO M. Sanjayan — as they watch the artificial, 13,000-gallon waterholes transform into epicenters of life in northern Tanzania, on the Mwiba Wildlife Reserve. Each episode features three different period of the year — from the middle of the dry season to the start of the rainy season. 

Using half-submerged and weather-proofed remote cameras, the scientists offer a glimpse into the animal kingdom’s hidden moments — from a family of warthogs gleefully bathing in the mud to a pack of hyenas driving a full-grown lion out of the waterhole. 

However, the antagonist in this three-part series is not an animal predator, but rather a more insidious threat: climate change. 

“With the growing impact of climate change, competition for water is set to get fiercer,” says Sanjayan in the program. “Temperatures in Africa are rising. In just 30 years, it is predicted that the continent will endure 50 percent more warming than the rest of the planet. There simply isn’t enough water to go around.” 

Yet, Sanjayan remains optimistic for the future of the Serengeti — and the species it supports. 

“Beyond all expectations we had no less than 105 species visiting our waterhole,” he says. “In a landscape that is patchy with respect to water, where water sources are there one day and gone the next, animals in this part of Africa are supremely adapted to changing their behavior to fit the local conditions and to take advantage of opportunity.” 

3. New film rides a wave of ocean conservation

Not only are waves important for surfers, they are crucial for distributing nutrients in the ocean, shaping coastlines and forecasting weather around the world. 

And who better to personify this natural phenomenon than "Aquaman" actor Jason Momoa, a native Hawaiian and ocean sustainability advocate. 

In a new installment of “Nature is Speaking” — an award-winning series of short films produced by Conservation International that gives voice to different parts of nature — Momoa personifies “The Wave,” expounding on the consequences of humanity’s assault on the world’s oceans. 

“I move energy, nutrients, life. I move you,” Momoa says as The Wave. “What do you think I can do to your currents, your coastlines, your climate? My requirements are simple. Stop stripping the forests that keep my water clean, stop filling the atmosphere with dead carbon and keep your plastic to yourself. Work with me now, before it’s too late. I’ll keep coming, I am the wave.”

The film highlights the importance of protecting the world’s waves by engaging with people who are especially connected to them: surfers. In 2019, Conservation International and the Save the Waves Coalition joined forces to create the Surf Conservation Partnership, which is mobilizing the global surf community as advocates for the protection of marine ecosystems. Globally, there are thousands of locations where surf waves coincide with biologically diverse marine and coastal ecosystems, according to recent research co-authored by Conservation International experts. 

“Waves are powerful, they are connected to the sun, to the moon and to the entire human population. We must collectively make the choice to treat our oceans with respect, not tomorrow but today,” Momoa said in a statement. 

“We can turn things around if we first recognize our connection to the ocean and then positively act on it, keeping nature’s and our best interests in mind.”

Watch the film here.


Kiley Price is a staff writer at Conservation International. Want to read more stories like this? Sign up for email updates here. Donate to Conservation International here.

Cover image: Wildebeests and zebras at a river, Tanzania Leslie Russell

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