Posted on 22nd May 2022

It’s International Day for Biological Diversity!

Biodiversity is declining faster now than at any point in human history. There is however, great potential for the impact of the screen industries to be positive and promote biodiversity

Biodiversity and the Screen Industry

It’s the 22nd of May, which means it’s the International Day for Biological Diversity

Biodiversity, all the living things that make up our natural world, is essential for human life – we depend on it for not only the air we breathe, food we eat and water we drink but also for health & medicines, fuel & materials and livelihoods. Yet biodiversity is declining faster now than at any point in human history. Since 1970, there has been an average 60% decline in global populations of mammals, fish, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. 25 % of all animal and plant species are threatened with extinction.

The film & TV industry impacts on biodiversity through its production practices, supply chain and through its portrayal of biodiversity on screen. Production impacts can be negative in relation to damage or disturbance of habitats or species and through use of materials.

Editorial impacts can also be negative due to increased demand for biodiversity damaging products, increased visitors to sensitive locations and impact on individual species. There is great potential, however, for the impact of the industry to be positive and promote biodiversity.

There is a need to normalise the language of biodiversity across albert and the industry.

Why should the industry care about biodiversity?

  • Biodiversity fundamentally underpins the benefits that businesses derive from natural capital 
  • Supply chains rely on biodiversity for natural resources, whether that be for precious minerals for cameras or water for cooling systems
  • Potential cost savings from reducing resource use
  • The interlinkage between climate and biodiversity mean it will not be possible to achieve net zero targets without considering biodiversity
  • Reputational gain for taking action on an issue of growing concern to viewers
  • Opportunity to inform viewers and help deliver international commitments
  • Existing and forthcoming legislation

Example of production impact and solutions

The production of 2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road was accused of damaging the ecosystem of the Namib Desert during filming.

Impacts such as these can be remedied by:

  • Being aware of where land is protected
  • Make sure permissions/permits are in place 
  • Make sure location guidance is in place
  • Consult local experts
  • Ensure all actions can be remedied
  • Train all relevant staff
  • Get a green location manager/runner in place

Example of editorial impact and solutions

Story content can cause an impact on individual species featured, for example an increased demand for clown fish as pets following the release of 2003’s Finding Nemo, which led to the species facing endangerment.

While examples like this can be positive and encourage conservation of species, we need to ensure accuracy and avoid encouraging human interactions with species or damage to their habitats.

A more recent positive example was an increase in interest of the pangolin, an endangered species, after its inclusion in 2016’s The Jungle Book

Head over to the official page of International Day of Biological Diversity to learn more!