After decades of creating nature programmes, Sir David Attenborough has brought yet another innovative project to TV screens with the launch of The Green Planet on BBC One.
The five-part series explores the intricacies of plant life across the globe, with the first episode including a warning from the nature historian over the importance of allowing the ‘tropical world to heal’ in rainforests, as it could be our ‘last chance’.
At the end of episode one, the 95-year-old outlined how ‘increasingly fragile’ the ‘complex connections and relationships’ between plants and animals have become in rainforests, which he described as the ‘richest and most dynamic environments on Earth’.
‘Today, 70% of all the world’s rainforest plants grow within a mile of a road or a clearing that we have cut into the forest. And this is creating new battlefields in the tropical world. Alien armies of identical cultivated plants now stand where thousands of different species once grew,’ he stated.
‘We have planted vast regiments of crops in order to provide ourselves with food and other commodities, and the ancient forest has been reduced to ever fewer isolated fragments.’
However, while it may seem like the impact humans have had on the rainforests may have caused irreparable consequences, Sir David insisted that ‘all is not lost’.
‘The fragments can still be sanctuaries, keeping alive the intimate relationships within them. Their size is, nonetheless, critical,’ he said.
The broadcaster emphasised that the ‘countless close relationships’ between plants and animals in forests are ‘increasingly under threat as forests become more fragmented’.
Nonetheless, he shared a specific example where an environment was given the freedom to grow.
He told viewers that he was standing on a spot surrounded by forest that 30 years ago, had been a large area of grass.
‘This land belonged to a scientific research establishment and it was covered by grass being grazed by cattle. The scientists got rid of the cattle and allowed nature to take its course. Just look at it now,’ he said.
‘This new forest has become a bridge that connects several fragments, allowing plants and animals to both renew old connections and create fresh ones.’
He ended the programme by saying that ‘we urgently need to protect what healthy forests remain’.
‘But looking forward, we must take what may well be our last chance to reestablish the lost rainforest and help the tropical world to heal itself,’ he warned.
Sir David said that doing so would require cooperation between national around the world, in a move that may be the ‘only way in which we’ll be able to preserve the treasures of the tropical rainforest for future generations’.
The Green Planet returns next Sunday at 7pm on BBC One and is available to watch on BBC iPlayer.