In 2010 Australia was facing the worst drought on history, but the death of the Murray Darling River had been written much earlier in European management without regard for Australia’s realities.
Tired of watching his ancestral home the Coorong die Ngarrindjeri elder Major Sumner united a group of different aboriginal nations from along the river on a 2300 kilometre pilgrimage to sign the spirit back into the river and into themselves.
By the time they had finished the drought had broken and what followed was the wettest wet season in living memory with floods throughout the basin. In 2011 the Aboriginal families retraced their ritual pilgrimage down the rivers from Southern Queensland to South Australia, and around them the river and the floods had transformed land. But in their lives the same struggles continued, and in the news the rest of Australia had already forgotten how close we all came to killing the river, and running out of water.
This is the story of a group of aboriginal families living between two worlds, struggling to have the knowledge of the world’s oldest surviving cultures heard in the national debate over how to live along Australia’s greatest river. And it is the story of two very different aboriginal leaders, Major Sumner and Cheryl Buchanan, traditional owners from either end of the Murray Darling River, elders, veterans of the tent embassy. Bound together by the rivers, the stories and their work to sing the spirit back into the land, their people, and the lives of their grandchildren.
Once, evergreen forests stretched across Southeast Asia. Now the largest forest of this kind lies next to the Mekong River in Cambodia, and it is unprotected.
Custodians of the land and forest since before recorded history, the rhythms of Kuy traditions, beliefs, medicines and livelihoods are interwoven with existence of Prey Lang Forest.
Already there are mines, logging and rubber plantations. But these are small scale compared to what is coming next. International investment in mining, roads, plantations and dams could turn Prey Lang into an industrial estate with just a few years.
Once already the Kuy rose up to save Prey Lang from logger’s chainsaws. But more is needed than patrolling and advocacy. It is going to take the outside world waking up to the human and environmental imperative to save Prey Lang and the Kuy people.
Before the axe falls.
Watch the film here
The miracle of the Okavango is water, an oasis in a country that is 85 percent covered by the Kalahari thirstland—the largest continuous stretch of sand on Earth. 9,000 million cubic meters of water flow annually from rainy highlands of Angola through Namibia in a river. When it hits a depression in northern Botswana formed between two fault lines, it spreads out like a hand, forming an alluvial fan. What makes the Okavango unique is that instead of emptying out into an ocean or lake as other deltas do, all the water here either gets used by plants or evaporates, simply fading out into the bone dry reaches of the Kalahari.
It’s impossible to imagine from where we are now that a vast desert surrounds us. Here in the deep, isolated wetlands, we can see and feel the abundance of water all around us, and the rich biodiversity that water supports.
© Blue Legacy International
In Botswana, a country the size of France with a population of just 1.6 million, one might imagine that competition for the water of the Delta—from humans, anyway—is not that fierce. One might argue that this is why the Okavango has remained one of the most pristine wetlands on Earth, largely undeveloped, the wildlife free to roam.
But this is not the case. The Okavango River Basin extends some 700,000 square kilometers across Angola, Namibia, and Botswana. Not only does the Delta in its natural state face threats from human populations and agricultural interests in Botswana itself, but also it risks diversion for dams and fresh water supplies by the people living in these neighboring countries to the North.
© Blue Legacy International
Prey Lang is the largest primary lowland dry evergreen forest remaining in both Cambodia and the Indochinese Peninsula. With an estimated 600,000 people relying on the forest for survival, logging and mining interests have the potential to destroy this critical, fragile and ancient forest habitat.