Conservation’s Dirty Secrets: C4, Dispatches, 20th June, 8pm 17Jun11

Sharing word on a Dispatches I’ve just made with director Richard Sanders and Blakeway investigating the conservation movement…We reveal that far from stemming the tide of extinction that’s engulfing the planet, some conservationists have got their priorities wrong. Unquestionable, conservation is crucial – we’re in an extinction crisis right now, set to lose 2.5million species by 2050…. and we need to get it right. Sadly we unearth questionable business connections, human rights violations and far more… Far too often alienating the very people they would need to stem the loss of species from earth… including the incredible Dominican Mountain Chicken, that’s a frog, that tastes like chicken… Please tune in… and spread the word.. and get the debate going.
On twitter: @Dispatches #conservation
Full Details: on Dispatches Website

24 Responses to “Conservation’s Dirty Secrets: C4, Dispatches, 20th June, 8pm”

  1. Jody Rogers Says:

    I think what you are doing is awesome, I love to go on the adventures you been on and see what you have seen, keep up the good work and stay safe, if you ever in Florida love to meet you one day. Take Care .

  2. Theresa Says:

    I would like to comment before the programme, regarding some information I found on the internet regarding WWF and other groups:

    I have in the past researched the WWF and have come to think that there may be some bad apples at the top of this international organisation and that there may be internal disagreements within the WWF.

    Some of the problems may stem from WWF US. The question I guess has to be HOW to stop the bad things WWF do (and similar groups) while helping the GOOD things.

    If anyone wants to look into this further may I recommend the Institute of Science in Society: article on the Global Food Security Act, GM Watch’s article: WWF: LOYAL ALLY TO AGRIBUSINESS AND GLOBALISATION, by Javiera Rulli, Christopher Booker’s comment in the Telegraph: WWF hopes to find 60 billion growing on trees, Responsible Soy and green washing (toxic soy) and criticism of The Global Harvest Initiative – “GHI is a coalition of biotech and agribusiness companies: DuPont, John Deere, Archer Daniels Midland, and Monsanto – that has, amazingly, teamed up with three big environmental groups – The Nature Conservancy, the World Wildlife Fund, and Conservation International. GHI intends to fight against the agro-ecological techniques recommended by the FAO; it seems to think the FAO’s approach is anti-technological…” In other words WWF International is in bed with Monsanto so to speak. NOTE: Many believe Monsanto are a threat to biodiversity and democracy. Interesting to see what Corporate Watch have to say about WWF and Archer Daniels Midland.

    It would be interesting to hear Oliver’s comments on Agroecology. How can we persuade the UK Government that this is a better option than other ideas being put forward.

  3. Michael Barker Says:

    Hi thought you might be interested my research. Please do contact me if you want to follow-up on any of my work. Michael

  4. chris Says:

    i think the show was very informing,iam just saddened by how the local people have been treated,in the name of conservation.

  5. L Fines Says:

    Thank you for giving a voice to those who are being denied a voice and basic human rights.

  6. Amanda Says:

    Hey Olly,
    the dispatch is geoblocked in my area. I live near the Miami area if you need any info on what areas are being affected.

  7. Fred Ramsey Says:

    I think your show was far too biased and one sided to be of any real benefit of trying to answer the problems in the conservation community.

    You looked at anecdotal one off evidence, manipulatively worded and edited your interviews without giving a proper balanced argument.

    You also failed to produce any actual constructive and in depth answers or solutions to the problems, relying more on cinematography and journalistic wordplay to get your point across.

    Please consider the ramifications of such cavalier journalism in the future before you act.

  8. Sim Says:

    Hi Olly,
    is there any chance to watch it outside UK? I live in Denmark.

  9. nemesis Says:

    A good start, but I think you have only hit the tip of the iceberg. Try getting to the bottom of ‘Agenda 21′ or the re-wilding project. It is a very sinister beast indeed.

  10. Kiki Says:

    I have just watched your ‘investigative documentary’ and I must admit I was pretty disappointed. I also think you do a real discredit to the field of journalism and its efforts to present a balanced and fair story able to get to the real meat of a very important issue. Conservation is a complex issue, full of grey areas. The origins of conservation movements in many countries are no doubt haunted by heartbreakingly unpleasant stories and often destructive ‘good intentions;’ yet the movement has come a long way since then and many conservation groups recognize the necessity and welcome the opportunity of working with local people and governments to ensure both people and wildlife have a shot at survival. Your agenda to paint conservation groups as evil-doers, ignorant of the impact they’re having on people and/or species, appeared blatant, and your editing of your interviews with the conservation group representatives seemed an obvious attempt to paint these people as uncaring, blathering fools. This is a tough issue, even tougher for the groups on the ground doing the work. Do they always get it right? Of course not. Do local people always want to work with the NGOs? Not always. Are there likely some legitimate complaints against conservation groups? I would say, yes, likely. Should we hold conservation groups accountable? Absolutely. But we also must recognize that conservation groups and the movement as a whole exists in a constant state of evolution, trying to find solutions to a growing, global crises that wears many faces. And many times they are trying to implement different strategies under difficult conditions in some of the most inhospitable places on the planet. Here was a real opportunity for you to cover a very real issue, to tell the conservation story in all its complexities, including its troubled past and its uncertain future, to explore the grey areas instead of glossing over them.
    But instead, you chose the easy way out. You chose a path that involved very little investigative reporting, substituting a search for the truth with a search for conflict, high viewership, sensationalism and generalities. You eagerly gave an ear to those you wanted to hear, to those you wanted your viewers to hear, and all but muffled the mouthpiece of those you didn’t want to hear. I regret this was my first introduction to your work. As someone who comes from a journalism background and believes it to be one of the nobler professions, I cringe when I see this type of sensationalist reporting. It shows both a lack of regard for your viewers and for your field. Perhaps one day you’ll do this story again, and do it justice.
    One additional point I would like to make regarding your ‘cute cuddly large mammal conservation vs. wet, slippery amphibious and/or reptilian conservation’ theme. Many of these animals, large and small, cute and scaly, do not live in different places. Often times we find them living together, in the same ecosystem. Is it the fault of the conservation organizations that the majority of donors worldwide identify more with the African elephant or lion rather than the puffadder? I hardly think so. But by raising money to save the elephant’s and/or lion’s habitat, you ultimately protect the habitat of the puffadder. Many of the scientists and non-scientists employed by these conservation organizations recognize and have a real appreciation for the role termites, ants, microbes, plankton and other of the non-cuddly types play within their ecosystem. But they also recognize and appreciate the fact that, knowing their donors as they do, they cannot raise the money they need to do their work with a picture of a Brazilian wandering spider. I agree conservation groups could do more to educate their donors and the public at large about the intricacies of functioning, viable ecosystems (and some do) and the roles all animals and otherwise play in them, but we do ask a lot of them. You have a camera crew and you have a platform. Why not make this the subject of your next documentary?
    If I agreed with anything in your documentary, I agree that more marine animals and marine habitat need and deserve both the attention and protection of the public.

  11. Barbara Says:

    Hi Olly,

    Loved your article on the Dispatches website, but the program was blocked for me too. Hope we will be able to see it in the states eventually. =)

    Are you working on anything else for Unreported World?

    Take care,

  12. Reena Says:

    Good Day Mr. Steeds

    Hope all is well with you and yours & you are enjoying your summer. I have a feeling this will be your last full summer in London so enjoy it because very soon you will have the series of your dreams. Just ask the universe once and watch your hearts desires come to you, that is if you want your career to head that way, I hope you do.
    I miss watching you on TV so come back soon.
    I have a question, I hope you do not mind answering, I wanted to ask you this question numerous times but felt weird, but sitting at work today (getting board) I decided to ask you.
    When you were living with the tribes did they have a concept of time? Did people celebrate their birthdays or know about birthdays and wedding anniversary?
    Find some time to come to NY we would love to have you.
    Please don’t ignore your web site, miss your comments.

    Wishing you health, happiness, love and wealth.

  13. Barbara Says:

    I just wanted to say that your high standards in journalism are completely obvious, and this piece is just one of many examples. You’re the bestest, Olly! ;)

  14. Catherine Mpofu Says:

    Gidday Oliver
    Just watched ‘Dirty Secrets’ in Australia. Well Done. This is the documentary that has needed to be made for years. I am – as you are, a conservationist that has both eyes open.

    What I saw in Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Kenya myself and the complaints of the locals… have given them the voice they need. Please make sure you keep supporting them and ‘checking in’ on them to make sure they dont get punished for speaking out!

    regards cat

  15. Robert Says:

    Hello Mr Steeds
    Aligning with local people is the way to go, but why so long for your program to get there. I’m watching your program on SBS Australia and its taken 53 minutes to get to the good stuff. I’ve spent half this program cringing at your journalistic tricks that are about as obvious as the hard sell from my local second hand car dealer. It hurts any valid points you have to make, and they are there if you can get past the terrible style.

    You attack the big organisations for going for the big or furry, then you use a similar emotive tactic yourself as “the adventurer” tracking down Lions. You ask questions that you must know the answer to, then you either edit out the full response or you fail to get the full response out of the person you are questioning.

    I almost didn’t get to the end because your style was killing the substance.

    This would have been a good 15 minute show if you had used the excellent small campaigns as the basis for your argument, then pointed out why people should support well targeted programs over the bloated and disconnected ones that may well be doing more harm than good.

    By the way, you were right about the fisheries problem, the whole of ecosystem problem, the greenwash problem, the problem with large organisations of any kind. the need for a holistic solution involving local communities. All that you missed was the elephant in the room, the problem that only David Attenborough seems to have dared touch on – there are too many people in the world to be sustainable, and asking the question “how many species do we keep” is a stupid approach (and its not new either). An ecological balance needs all species to maximise diversity within the ecosystem, lots of different ways to meet our needs. Removing that diversity weakens the system. If you rely on one species to play a role you risk a major problem if that species runs into trouble. Its why biodiversity is so important and why scientists are putting together a seed bank of all our key food crop species, for species diversity when the one or two commercialised species hit a problem.

    If the ecology is out of balance, you need to address the factor that is out of balance, and that is the 6 billion top order predators that roam this planet. If you want to take a scientific approach to the biggest problem we face, you need to address our population explosion before the seeming inevitable day when resource scarcity finally gets out of hand.

    PS You may have made a difference if next time I am set upon by backpackers collecting for the WWF I am offered the choice of sponsoring a honey bee. Boring, but there is probably no more critical a creature to our survival, beyond us waking up and starting to address that elephant in the room issue.

    Good luck

  16. Real conservationist Says:

    There is a term for what was described in the documentary its called Fortress Conservation, and it is apparent wherever there is weak governance and cashed up environmental NGOs . Fortress conservation is basically a “win at all costs” approach to conservation, which generally ignores the legitimate human presence in the environment, and thus devalues and alienates the real stakeholders such as indigenous peoples on the land and artisanal/traditional/recreational fishers on the water. The solution is inclusion of local people in conservation decisions, not isolating them with grubby corporate conservation ideaologies. Only by co-operating and learning from the experiences of real stakeholders will environmental NGOs bridge the growing divide between the urban dwellers and the natural world. Environmental NGOs can do this well, sometimes, but too often the message is oversimplified and corporate ideaologies taint the process, especially the likes of PEW environment group with all that oil money being used to lock people out of marine areas at the moment

  17. IanT Says:

    Your documentary failed to mention the cause of most of the world’s conservation problems, i.e. over-population and its affect on once-wild habitats. You obviously understand the conflict between man and nature and your programme was biased towards the former. The consevation foundations may not be perfect but at least they are attempting to fight the damage caused by human over-population, greed and neglect. You also displayed typical human arrogance, i.e. animals have no worth unless of benefit to local populations. You should be asking how will man and nature compete with another projected 2 billion people within the next 50 years?

  18. Eugenia Says:

    As a life long conservationist at heart and also a professional for all my life (which is more than 20 years), I have to only agree with this documentary. I also believe that big conservation organisations have lost their way to science of conservation, focusing on popular science, sometimes forgetting good manners in their dealing with local population of humans. It is unwanted development as more and more is understood how much local people can bring to conservation (meaning keeping the local environment as untouched by human activities as possible). I have a great example from closer home – european bear. There are jokes in Eastern Europe (where most of them lives) about attitudes of West Europeans to bear conservation. NIMBY’s are these ppl called, I believe. I know of one example where bear was introduced to Spanish Pyrenees from Carpathiens (to strenghten local population and genome of bears) and shot by local spanish farmer within a few months. It cost only 5000 euros, all for nothing, who cares. There is more stories like that. At the same time, the mammals management system in countries where the biggest european mammal lives has changed by EU and numbers of bears are rising, endangering locals. People who lived with bears for centuries are getting agitated, their opinions being divided. And yes, there is a lot of interest in bear research and less money available for say, water pollution research. It looks great on paper how their population numbers risen. And I haven’t even started on taxonomy and plants. Go figure the way human mind works…
    p.s. don’t listen to Kiki, she obviously doesn’t know much about the topic…conservation is not so full of grey areas as it is full of areas of avoidance for money…and I would like a high viewership for controversial side of issues like this, because hopefully the wrong path will be then corrected by concerned individuals for benefit of real science which will make a real difference in species extinction numbers.

  19. Tan Says:

    Hi, Olly
    Summer is almost over, I hope you find time to enjoy some of them. Sorry, for not be able to watch the Dispatches on C4, it said “is not available in your area.” I hope we would be able to watch some of your work soon. Right now, on Planet Green stills showing your Unsolved History on the weekend, not sure if every weekend or every other weekend. Please, do not forget your blog site, keep us in on what you are doing. Anyway, I wish you the best and hope that we would be able to see your show again in the US. Take good care of yourself and stay safe, Tan.

  20. Grit Lorbeer Says:

    Hello Olly!
    I am a great fan of you and your work. When does one see you finally again in the TV? What do you work straight? I have a personal question to you. Are you engaged since this summer with a women of tenerife? ( announces in the telegraph ).Is there soon a new contribution of you for Unreported World? When are there an update your Website?

  21. Chris Lang Says:

    Well done Oliver for exposing the role of the African Wildlife Foundation in the evictions of the Samburu. In AWF’s press release about handing over the land to the Kenyan government for the creation of a new Laikipia National Park, Helen Gichohi, AWF’s president said:

    “Securing the land for a future Laikipia National Park demonstrates the African Wildlife Foundation’s approach to conservation. We targeted an area with significant ecological potential that was under severe threat and worked diligently with our partners, both governmental and otherwise, to secure it.

    Survival International wrote to the UN about the Eland Downs case last week.

    I’ve posted something about all this on REDD-Monitor:

  22. Nkarrabali Says:

    The work you are doing is awesome.
    We the local Masai people who live around the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro actually feel and knows the kind of work and the impact of the information that you are doing.
    Keep up the good job.
    We hope someone is reading all this,
    more so the governments of both Kenya and Tanganyika.
    God blessing and live long to see the fruit of your hard labor.
    We really appreciate this.

  23. topoika ole rottiken samson Says:

    we need to conserve maasai mau forest by planting trees to bring forest to original status rain forest by involving community right away from grassroots i have a proposal who is serious donor to be approached for funding please get in touch send details and how to complete project work best regards

  24. topoika ole rottiken samson Says:

    i live in narok county narok adjacent to the forest i feel responsible to correct what went wrong for future generations moral obligation am resident of kenya

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