Connecting with nature from the couch; Our favourite wildlife and environment programmes
Connecting with nature is an important form of self-care, and of helping all of us look after our mental health particularly during coronavirus restrictions. Getting outside and spending time in our gardens, local parks and green spaces is one way to connect with nature, but a study published this year has also found that watching nature on TV can help improve wellbeing.
So whether you can't or don't feel comfortable going outside at the moment, or if you just fancy a cosy night in, we've asked our team to pick their favourite wildlife and environment programmes, which we hope you'll enjoy too!
No list of nature films would be complete without Sir David Attenborough making an appearance or two. We put our feet up and enjoyed his latest narrated series, Perfect Planet, on the BBC as a family.
- Verity Pitts, Natural England
It's not quite sand dunes, but I absolutely love the series Puffin Rock. I used to work on offshore "seabird city" islands such as Lundy, Saint Kilda, and Pembrokeshire islands and I'm really impressed at how they've managed to somehow make a children's tv show where the ecology of these islands is almost perfect! It's genuinely really lovely too.
- Sarah Dalrymple, Cumbria Wildlife Trust
The Biggest Little Farm
I really enjoyed The Biggest Little Farm - a heart-warming documentary about a couple and their dog moving from a flat to a 200 acre farm depleted of nutrients and wildlife, and how they transformed the farm ecosystem into one of the most diverse farms of its kind in coexistence with nature.
- Sally Wallington, National Trust
My Octopus Teacher
Feeling slightly different than most nature or natural history documentaries, ‘My Octopus Teacher’ is beautifully shot, and is as much about one man’s connection to the ocean and to nature and to finding stability in his life again, as it is about the fascinating life of an octopus off the coast of South Africa.
- Emma Brisdion, Natural England
I highly recommend the Winter Walks series on BBC4. Each programme follows a different walker filming their walk using a novel 360 degree camera through some of the most beautiful landscapes that the north of England has to offer. A really mindful, immersive and inspiring series which is giving me lots of ideas for walks post-lockdown!
- Rob Gornall, Natural England
Beavers Without Borders
This was written and produced by a local filmmaker Nina Constable, who has worked with Cornwall Wildlife Trust at times. It was for the Beaver Trust, it’s interesting and informative, and it’s a topical subject, as it’s a form of rewilding and it links to climate change and biodiversity decline.
- Andy Nelson, Cornwall Wildlife Trust
Marine Mammal Rescue Centre
I love watching the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre channel on YouTube. They are based in Vancouver and they rescue a number of different marine mammals - including some very cute baby sea otters. It might not be super educational or but I find it very endearing.
- Kate Martin, National Trust
For me it has to be Local Hero!!! One of the best films ever made. It’s very dated now (it was made in 1983), but at the time, having just finished college myself doing one of the very first national land management courses and working at Gibraltar Point in Lincolnshire, it was very relevant with a powerful message. Nearly 40 years on the message is still loud and clear – don’t build oil refineries on our sand dunes! For those of us of a certain age, the nostalgia of piling coins into a phone box in the middle of nowhere for our communication is a reason to watch it in itself! It’s nicely cheesy, funny, and a killer soundtrack by Mark Knopfler. Family friendly as well.
- Dave Bromwich, Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust
Wildlife Watch UK
I know it's not just one programme, but the Wildlife Watch YouTube Channel is packed full of wonderful wildlife videos and resources for children, which are brilliant even when we're all staying in our homes.
- Tish Cookson, Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust
Scuba Diving in Wales
One of our colleagues at Natural Resources Wales, Jake Davies, has shared with us some of his beautiful underwater footage as he explores the coast of Pen Llŷn, proving unequivocally that you don't have to travel far at all to discover an incredible array of marine life. Watch out for dolphins, crabs, sharks and impressive barrel jellyfish.