Eden at the End of the World
New National Geographic Special Explores Spectacular Landscape
January 09, 2008 - NewsBlaze, Daily News
It is the last great wilderness of its kind, a rare and endangered haven for some of Earth's hardiest creatures. Covering hundreds of thousands of square miles of Chile and Argentina, this wild place is known as Patagonia. In spite of its remote location, Patagonia and its wildlife are under pressure from the human footprint.
A new National Geographic Special, "Eden at the End of the World," shows the spectacular vistas and diverse animal life of the region while highlighting an innovative conservation model that will help preserve the pristine wilderness for future generations. "Eden at the End of the World," produced by National Geographic Television exclusively for Public Television, airs Jan. 30, 2008, 8 p.m. ET/ 5 p.m. PT, only on PBS. The underwriter is Goldman Sachs.
For centuries, wind, geology and tempestuous seas kept Patagonia beyond the commercial reach of man. An astonishing array of wildlife flourishes in the region's nearly 347,000 square miles, including such birds as Magellanic penguins and Andean condors, land mammals such as the guanaco and puma, and marine mammals such as orcas and elephant seals.
Today, the Patagonian ecosystem is facing increasing pressure. Climate change affects both the western Andean glaciers and the tides that batter its southern shores. Sheep farming results in overgrazing and soil erosion, and beaver dams cause flooding that ravages forests. Man-made garbage, such as plastic filament, often injures wildlife. Changes in the landscape from waste and invaders mean that Patagonian flora and fauna may not survive future devastation without human intervention.
Is there any hope for saving this wild place?
There is: A revolutionary new partnership between business and conservation provides a more hopeful future for Patagonia. Global investment bank Goldman Sachs has partnered with the Bronx Zoo-based Wildlife Conservation Society to create Karukinka, a nature reserve of more than 700,000 acres on the island of Tierra del Fuego. Karukinka, which means "our land" in the language of the Selk'nam people who once lived there, contains unique and spectacular native flora and fauna. At the epicenter, where the Atlantic and Pacific oceans collide, Karukinka is a microcosm of the environmental forces at play throughout Patagonia.
The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and Goldman Sachs worked with the government of Chile to obtain support for this nature reserve and created an advisory council that includes some of Chile's most distinguished experts from the business, scientific and political sectors. Together, these partners are working with the local community, conduct scientific research and promote sustainable development of ecotourism. This public-private partnership is as unique as the land it protects and serves as a new conservation model for saving the last of the wild, in Patagonia and beyond.
In "Eden at the End of the World," viewers learn some of Patagonia's secrets through the work of some remarkable WCS scientists. In Punta Tombo on the Atlantic shelf, Dee Boersma has studied the largest colony of Magellanic penguins in the world for two decades. Meanwhile, Claudio Campagna has spent the past 20 years monitoring the movements and reproductive successes of elephant seals farther up the Patagonian coast. The work of Boersma, Campagna and others makes possible the astounding animal-action footage in "Eden at the End of the World." From a female guanaco calving to male elephant seals jousting like sumo wrestlers, viewers will experience the full cycle of life.
The continuity of life contrasted with threats to survival make this program an important vision of what might happen to this once-pristine region if threats are allowed to continue unchecked. Boersma says: "This is one of the spectacles of nature... But there's a lot less now than before, because we're using the ocean so extensively..." Campagna emphasizes, "If we're going to create protected areas, we better do it in the next five to 10 years." Fortunately, Karukinka has already been created. Its genesis and ongoing success provide a remarkable template for other corporate-conservation partnerships that can help save wild places like Patagonia from environmental devastation.
Producer of "Eden at the End of the World" is Doug Bertran; executive producers are John Bredar and Keenan Smart, who is also head of the National Geographic Natural History Unit.
National Geographic Television (NGT) is the documentary TV production arm of the National Geographic Society, known around the world for its remarkable visuals and compelling stories.
The National Geographic Society is one of the largest global scientific and educational organizations, supporting field science on every continent. In 1963 NGT broke ground by broadcasting on American network television the first moving pictures from the summit of Everest. Since then NGT has continued to push technology to its limits to bring great stories to television audiences worldwide. With 129 Emmy Awards and nearly 1,000 other industry accolades, NGT programming can be seen globally on the National Geographic Channel, as well as terrestrial and other cable and satellite broadcasters worldwide through international sales by National Geographic Television International, and on U.S. public television stations. The National Geographic Channel is received by more than 250 million households in 34 languages in 166 countries.
PBS, headquartered in Alexandria, Va., is a private nonprofit media enterprise owned and operated by the nation's 349 public television stations. Serving nearly 100 million each week, PBS enriches the lives of all Americans through quality programs and education services on noncommercial television, the Internet and other media. More information about PBS is available at www.pbs.org.
The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild lands through science, international conservation, education and management of the world's largest system of urban parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. With hundreds of scientists at work in over 60 countries, it is a leader in the race to save the last of the wild. Learn more at www.wcs.org.
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Trailer: Eden at the End of the World
Learn more about Campagna's Pew Fellows Project - Sea & Sky