Sunday, 1 December 2019

Equality in Nature: Making Wildlife Films Relevant to everyone

Birdgirl Filming with Jonathan Franzen (USA author) in California

Birdgirl Filming with Jonathan Franzen (USA author) in California

The environmental & wildlife TV sector has extremely low numbers of Visible Minority Ethnic (VME) people when looking in front of and behind the camera. It employs a huge number of people around the country including many in Bristol, which has the BBC Natural History Unit as well as 60 production companies. The sector is also poor on diversity generally.

I and Black2Nature have been campaigning for almost 5 years to make the sector ethnically diverse so that our communities have role models and make VME people feel that nature and the environment are something they should be interested in. The aim is to come up with practical ways to make wildlife films relevant to VME communities so that VME audiences gain an interest in watching programmes from this sector. This is to follow on from the conferences I organised in June 2016 and October 2019. 

This conference is being held in conjunction with Wildscreen Festival & University of Bristol at The Wills Memorial Building, Queens Road, Clifton, Bristol, BS8 1RJ.

The cost will be fixed soon but there will be free tickets available for those who can not afford to pay including young people, students, community organisations, small film-making organisations, freelance people and staff from the secondary and higher education).

To book: Eventbrite will be available once speakers confirmed

What we will cover

We will have a panel discussion on quality, diversity and inclusion within the sector in terms of those working within the sector and the stories being told and to whom. 

We will also consider in a panel what and who are the barriers or potential barriers to wildlife films being made that are relevant or of interest to VME people, such as by location, species or other kinds of content.  In particular, we will consider whether it is possible to make programmes that are more accessible to those who are not already engaging with nature.

We will have two masterclasses, to choose from. One for sector leaders in covering overall policies and successfully implementing them and one for anyone working in the sector to consider the barriers and overcoming them.


TBC but will include names you know from the sector.

Why is this relevant you?

The lack of engagement with nature has a dramatic impact on: 

Physical and mental health - so a crucial issue for anyone working in VME health; and 

Educational attainment for our children and young people - so critical for anyone working in education.

Unless the sector can start making wildlife programmes that are relevant to VME people, they will continue without nature role models who can harness interest in nature and environmental issues.

Programme - 13.30  - 19.00

13.30 - 14.00   Registration & refreshments

14.00 - 14.05   Rich Pancost - Welcome from UWE & housekeeping (provisional)

14.05 - 14.15   Mya-Rose Craig - Welcome & making wildlife film-making relevant

14.15 - 15.15 Panel Discussion 1

15.15 - 16.15 Panel Discussion 2

16.15 - 16.35 Key Note Speaker

16.35 - 17.20 Masterclasses, best practice & toolkits - choose 1

1 - Practical steps for wildlife film-makers 

2 - Masterclass for Sector Leaders and commissioners

17.20 - 17.30 Mya-Rose Craig, Closing notes

17.30 - 19.00 Refreshments & networking


Thank you to Wildscreen Festival for partnering with us, the University of Bristol for providing a venue and Icon Films and Plimsoll Productions for sponsoring the event.

Please let me know if you can sponsor this event. Thank you.

Who should attend

It is intended that attendees will include (but not limited to) leaders from wildlife, nature and environmental film-making, programme commissioners, those working in this sector and in nature media and universities offering biological science, ecology, wildlife, nature conservation or similar courses, Visible Minority Ethnic (VME) naturalists, groups working with VME and Faith communities, Bristol City Council leaders, as well as other interested organisations.

Social Media

We will be posting through the day. It would be fantastic if you could also share the day using the hashtag #raceequalityinnature. Please, can you follow and tag Mya-Rose Craig; Twitter @BirdgirlUK, FB myarosebirdgirlcraig, Instagram @birdgirluk and LinkedIn Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig.

About the Author

Young environmentalist and birder Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig
Copyright Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig 

Mya-Rose Craig is a 17-year-old young British Bangladeshi birder, naturalist, conservationist, environmentalist, race activist, writer and speaker. She is based near Bristol and writes posts about birding, nature conservation,  environmental issues and racism from around the world. 

Mya-Rose has been organising nature camps for teenagers since 2015, Camp Avalon, and nature camps for children, Camp Chew, since 2017. She has organised nine camps since then and is organising more for 2020. She also wrote to five of the biggest NGO's in 2015, after her first camp, asking them what steps they were taking to make their organisations ethnically diverse. 

Her first camp led to her organise a conference in 2016, Race Equality in Nature, aiming to increase the ethnic diversity in nature by looking at the barriers to Visual Minority Ethnic (VME) people going out into nature, what can be done to overcome these barriers and how we can create VME role models. She had speakers Bill Oddie and Kerry McCarthy MP. She also organised a second conference, Race Equality in Nature: The Next Generation 13-30 in October 2019 with Speakers Chris Packham, Bristol Deputy Mayor, Councillor Asher Craig, and RSPB CEO Beccy Speight.

She has also set up Black2Nature with the aim of working with organisations to increase the access to nature of VME people and is President. Please connect with her on LinkedIn (Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig) so that she can invite you to join the Race Equality in Nature LinkedIn Group and be part of the change. 

She was a Bristol European Green Capital Ambassador along with Kevin McCloud, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Tony Juniper, Simon King and Miranda Krestovnikoff. She has also been listed with the singer-songwriter George Ezra and actress Maisie Williams from Game of Thrones as one of Bristol's most influential young people

She has been involved in the UK organisation of the Youth Strikes encouraging young people from around the world to not go to school once a month and protest instead demanding immediate action to prevent climate breakdown.   She is involved with Extinction Rebellion, setting up a local group. This is an interview in New Statesman. She has written articles for Resurgence & Ecologist Magazine, New Internationalist, The Big Issue and was listed as a local hero in The Guardian.

She has given over 50 talks, speaking at conferences such as being on a panel with George Monbiot and Caroline Lucas on Sustainability and the Future of Cities. She is a Minister in Chris Packham's Manifesto for Nature in 2018 and spoke in front of 10,000 people at the Walk for Nature. She has also appeared on TV and radio and is particularly proud of being in Silent Roars, a short film which was part of Listen to Britain 2017 She has also appeared on Channel 4 News, local BBC News and BBC2's Hugh's Wild West.

She has been awarded the Bath and West Show Environmental Youth Award 2017 for Bristol for her Black2Nature work EYA 2017. She was also listed as one of Bristol's BME top 100 powerlist and was nominated in the Birders' Choice Awards 2019 as Conservation Hero of the Year with Sir David Attenborough, Greta Thunberg and George Monbiot.

She loved seeing Mountain Gorillas in East Africa and Penguins in Antarctica over Christmas 2015, her 7th continent. She became the youngest person to see half the birds of the world, 5369 birds in Brazil in August  2019 age 17. Please also like her Birdgirl Facebook Page and follow her on Birdgirl Twitter. If you would like to contact Mya-Rose about her work, please e-mail

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