Who would have thought that the onset of a worldwide pandemic and the uncertainties that came with it would give life to a brand-new concept in conservation? Despite the world coming to an abrupt halt due to COVID-19, this certainly wasn’t the case for everyone, especially those working on the ground in conservation areas. It was the opposite, as their lives got a whole lot busier.

Due to many people having lost their jobs in the city, a massive shift of individuals and families moving back to the rural countryside was initiated. With the severe lack of income in already impoverished communities compounded with little to no job opportunities, the need to rely on natural resources was ever-increasing. This was most clearly seen in an escalation of deforestation and subsistence poaching. And so, as the rest of the world hunkered down, Peace Parks and its partners buckled up.

Werner Myburgh, Peace Parks Foundation CEO, and Peace Parks Communications Coordinator, Lésa van Rooyen discuss two of the significant issues Peace Parks faced during the onset of the pandemic. The first was to navigate how funding would be mobilised to look after wildlife and communities. The second was trying to address the fast-growing disconnect between people and nature when the need for connection was more important than ever.

In response to these two challenges, in May 2021, Damian Horner, co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of UK-based company, Real Vision, proposed the creation of a first of its kind online video channel that would give the audience an unfiltered look behind the scenes at Peace Parks Foundation. And so, Peace Parks TV was born.

The concept of Peace Parks TV is to help create awareness about the work that Peace Parks Foundation and its partners are committed to daily. This is done through editing and uploading short, raw, and in the moment videos sent in from staff on the ground, giving the audience insight into what daily life looks like across different conservation fields. As Damian mentions in the video above, awareness is the first step to allowing your audience to understand what your organisation or company does, leading to engagement and genuine interest.

Lésa points out how surprised she was to learn how interested people were in the different projects and watched a discussion and healthy debate develop in the comments section of the social media posts. Peace Parks TV has been a great reminder of the unique work associated with the world of conservation, which is quite far removed from a more conventional job. Damian adds that he was also surprised at how hungry people were for genuine and raw storytelling instead of curated content, with social media adding the new dynamic of allowing people to engage with each other and the people of Peace Parks.

Peace Parks TV has proven to be a very effective tool in empowering those working on the frontlines and allows staff to share and showcase the work being done to change people’s lives, rewild nature and create harmony between humans and wildlife. The response to the videos has exceeded all expectations and is a true testament to the passion and commitment that these staff members exude.