A myriad of factors drive habitat loss from the local to the global level: global warming, land-use change, pollution, agricultural intensification and land abandonment all contribute to the current decline in biodiversity. Although not as visible as large mammals, insects are also subjected to a loss in their species richness. This in turn directly and indirectly affects human well-being. A documentary shot by the students of the seminar Ecological Restoration for Sustainability in the Sustainability Science Minor at Leuphana University (Germany) illustrates how agricultural production is linked to habitat loss resulting in a decline of insects and other species all over the world and presents people and projects actively working for a more sustainable world.
In the documentary, 12 undergraduate students interviewed scientists as well as non-academic actors in the field of ecological restoration, conservation and alternative food production. The documentary Growing Hope both presents an overview of the problems driven by human land use and shows local solution approaches.
With a focus on insect diversity, interviewees explain how the way humans use and modify the landscape affects habitats. The importance of diverse landscapes, ranging from grasslands over shrublands to forests, is highlighted. This mosaic of land-cover types ensures a wide range of different habitats and thus supports biodiversity. Importantly, not only insects and other non-human organisms benefit from functioning ecosystems and intact ecological processes: human well-being is also dependent on the environment.
Yet, the documentary shows, how many people have lost the connection to nature, how monocultures sprawl, how agricultural intensification degrades ecosystems, how pollinators decline. But, like one interviewee suggest, “There’s no point in being completely depressed about it”. All experts featured in the documentary express confidence that humans can change their way of life and thereby counter environmental degradation and biodiversity loss.
Finally, the documentary presents so called seeds of hope – individual activities and local projects which refrain from intensive agriculture and support local food production. On an individual level, this includes consuming locally produced food and reconnecting to nature. In terms of collective action, it is suggested to engage in collaborative projects such as permaculture initiatives. In general, the interviewees agree, that both, ecosystems and the people who live there need to be considered when using and managing landscapes.