If we don’t act now, it will be too late

David Attenborough this week made a bold statement about climate change:

“ if we don’t act now, it will be too late”.

When we commissioned artists to engage with local residents and businesses, to provoke conversations about whether the Forest of Dean might benefit from becoming a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, it is because we believe Attenborough has a good point. We mustn’t wait, we must act - now.

Soon we’ll be providing a downloadable information pack that raises questions around the key issues addressed in the film The Forest We Want. 

Unlike Attenborough, Geliot and Ireland worked on a low budget; unlike COP26, they are not seeking to deal with climate change on a global scale. Instead, their films and podcasts are specifically about  the Forest of Dean. The place we love and work in, or visit for a holiday. And that is ok, because what we achieve here can make a global difference. 

When the artists first visited this area they were amazed by its beauty, variety, wildness and diversity. Sadly, those that live and work here can easily become complacent about how special it is. We hope that seeing the forest anew through their eyes will remind everyone of how fantastic it is. 

While you watch the wonderful visuals that seduce you visually, listen to the voices and conversations which reveal knowledge, spoken by people who really care about protecting the forest and retaining its uniqueness. In turn, they want to be part of the movement to retain diversity of species, sustainable land management practices and promote local produce and economies.

We think that becoming a UNESCO Biosphere would benefit the area, but we want to know whether you agree with us. And if you don’t think it will, we want to know why. We have had an economic model produced and we are convinced, but we need you on board too.

We realise it won’t happen overnight, just like the climate crisis didn’t.  But we are where we are. We have mined local coal which we now realise has contributed to climate change. We didn’t know then, but we do now. We know that pollution is killing life in our rivers, and insecticides are affecting populations of birds and leaving chemicals on our foodstuffs.  Old energies must be replaced to ensure we have clean air, even what we plant must be considered to strike a balance in biodiversity. We experience flooding more frequently, high temperatures and pandemics. Unlike Elle, we are losing our balance.

The list goes on, public transport instead of private, local food instead of importing. We’re doing quite well on these things, but we must do more.

Becoming a Biosphere is about networking the already effective agents together to make a difference. It will cost money to set up, which will need to be raised, so we need to be sure it is what local people want.

As an artist, curator and adviser on this project I am delighted about the wide range of content the artists have provided on such a low budget. Each time I watch or listen I notice more things, you may need to do the same. Then talk to friends, family and colleagues. Ask them what they think. Talk about it on social media, complete our survey. We genuinely want to hear from you.

If you run a business, a club, a school, a cinema, get in touch with us if you would like someone to lead a discussion for you. 

Because we need to act now

- Carolyn Black, Arts Curator - The Forest We Want