Video Duration 26 minutes 00 seconds
From: earthrise

Mountain Gorillas in Uganda & the Great Seed Bank

Gorillas in a remarkable comeback, a seed bank for wild plant species, green technology and mangrove reclamation.

Gorillas in the mist

Gorillas, once a species at the brink of extinction, are making a remarkable comeback in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Between 2003 and 2006, their numbers rose by over 25 percent and there are now more than 480 animals living in the Virunga Massif area.

This success is partly due to the work of the International Gorilla Conservation Programme (IGCP). The organisation has played a key role in reducing poaching, disease and other human-wildlife conflict.

Nick Clark describes witnessing the results of their work up close: “Getting up close and personal with a mountain gorilla is a pretty humbling experience. You get so near that you are actually in range of their body odour – a pungent, sickly-sweet smell of old sweat.”

The great seed bank

Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank partnership, based at Wakehurst Place in Sussex, is the largest off-site plant conservation project in the world. Working with partners across more than 50 countries, they had by 2009 banked the seeds of 10 percent of the planet’s wild plant species.

Their new goal: save 25 percent by 2020. The partnership targets plants from regions at risk from climate change and human destruction as well as near-extinct, rare and useful species. Sharing expertise with international botanic gardens, universities and NGOs, they work to ensure the survival of plants through seed conservation.

Most collected seeds are kept in seed banks in the country of origin, the samples are sent to Wakehurst Place for testing and long-term storage. The processing and conservation involves several scientists who make sure the seeds remain viable.

Now, a new phase in the long-term conservation project is about to begin – an initiative to bring the seeds back to the soil, rejuvenating priority habitats worldwide. This process will start with the restoration of several grasslands and meadows across Britain and extend over several years.

Alternative technology

The Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) in Wales is a living laboratory for environmental technologies. It is unique in combining hands-on experience with top-grade academic teaching.

CAT’s training and education programmes are helping bridge the substantial skill gap that currently exist in the green technology sector; creating experts with the knowledge, understanding and ability that the world needs to speed the transition to a low carbon economy.

Mangrove rebirth

In one of the most scenic and remote corners of Indonesia’s vast archipelago, a mangrove rehabilitation programme is under way.

The Mangrove Action Project is working in remote coastal villages, like Tanakeke in South Sulawesi, to restore some of the 70 percent of its mangrove forests that have been destroyed by pollution and logging to make way for commercial fish ponds.

This is no photo opportunity but an ecological approach that looks at the root causes of mangrove habitat destruction and works to reverse the process in order to allow for natural regrowth.

Spade in hand, Yaara Bou Melhem will accompany the team of international and local workers who are bringing back South Sulawesi’s mangroves.