Into the Blue

Into the Blue, Ackroyd & Harvey, 2016 (detail). Photo: Gorm Ashurst


Two trees feature in this twin-screen film – a cork oak in Portugal and a frankincense tree in Kenya. Human interaction and development of sustainable economies with the trees are critical to the longer-term survival of endangered species and to protecting livelihoods of collectors.

Set against blue skies, the sound composition captures fragments of thoughts drawn from recordings with conservationists whose work is dedicated to the restoration of threatened habitats, species and livelihoods.

The emblematic wood landscape pastures of southern Portugal have suffered decades of degradation and placed the Iberian lynx onto the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species as Critically Endangered, and the black vulture as Near Threatened. Through the use of advanced imaging technology and the development of community relations, conservation work is reversing this trend and the Iberian lynx is now downlisted on the IUCN Red List from Critically Endangered to Endangered. The black vulture has an extensive range from Portugal to Mongolia, and recent conservation success sees an increase in Western Europe.

In northern Kenya the Samburu women have formed collectives where they venture into the bush to harvest aromatic resin from the frankincense trees. The increasing demand for wild plants poses major ecological and social challenges and the pressure on potentially vulnerable plant species can endanger both local ecosystems and livelihoods of collectors, who often belong to the poorest social groups in the countries of origin. Conservation initiatives are promoting sustainable management and collection of wild plant material, with equitable trade throughout the supply chain.

The work captures reflections on the interdependence that exists between wildlife and livelihoods, culture and conservation.

Research and filming

Sound composition Graeme Miller
Camera Rupert Eden/Portugal
Camera Ackroyd & Harvey/Kenya
Edit Dan Saul
Captions Ricardo Sleiman