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WHAT IS BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY and why is its preservation so vital to our future? Those critical questions are answered in compelling yet comprehensible terms in this powerful series funded by the National Science Foundation. In three beautifully photographed programs, each an hour in length, narrator Merlin Olsen takes viewers on an eye-opening journey of discovery, revealing the astonishing patterns of interconnection and interdependence that characterize the natural world. Along the way, leading biologists, including Paul Ehrlich, David Tilman, and Peter Raven, disclose the latest scientific insights into biological diversity and the role it plays in maintaining the long-term health of our planet. At the same time, farmers, ranchers, and other concerned citizens share their thoughts about the kind of stewardship that will be necessary to protect biodiversity in the 21st century.

Part One: Understanding the Work of Nature
This program communicates basic ecological concepts about the workings of nature and sheds new light on biological diversity. It does this by drawing meaningful comparisons between the natural world and the more familiar human economy. Ultimately, biological diversity is seen as a critical long-term “insurance policy,” giving natural communities the greatest number of options for remaining healthy and productive in the face of inevitable environmental changes. Among the scientists and other experts featured in this production are Yvonne Baskin, Roger Rosentreter, David Evans, Jayne Belnap, Nancy Huntly, Gretchen Daily, James Brown, Rosemary Smith, and David Tilman.

Part Two: Appreciating Nature’s Services
This documentary examines a wide array of essential life-support services that humans receive from biologically diverse natural systems. The vital benefits provided by healthy natural economies include photosynthesis, plant pollination, maintenance o f soil fertility, water purification, erosion and flood control, control of population and disease, genetic diversity, and the recreational, spiritual, and aesthetic enjoyment of nature. Scientists and other storytellers featured in the program include Nancy Randall, Peter Raven, Karen Strickler, William Kemp, Chet Kendell, William Fender, Dorothy McKey Fender, Maribeth Watwood, Chris Hoag, Wayne Minshall, Bruce Smith, Robert Parmenter, Joseph Pavek, John Bamberg, and Stepan Kiru.

Part Three: Conserving the Diversity of Life
The third program identifies current threats to biological diversity and the maintenance of vital life-support services. Among the dangers examined are water pollution, human population growth, proliferation of invasive species, habitat loss and fragmentation, and the extinction of species. Against this background, the program presents practical examples of wise stewardship, successful conservation efforts, and promising approaches to protecting the diversity of life on Earth. Among the scientists and other concerned citizens featured in this program are Neil Poulson, Chris Hoag, Paul Ehrlich, Peter Raven, Stephen Novak, Charles Trost, William Newmark, Charles Peterson, Debra Patla, James Brown, David Tilman, Tom Cade, Ed Galindo, Lavern Broncho, Bruce Smith, Guy Bonnivier, Bud and Nick Purdy, and Natalie, Jon, and Laurie Kruse.

Treasuring Our Natural Heritage was produced by Paul Bockhorst Productions for the Natural Heritage Center, an affiliate of the Idaho Museum of Natural History at Idaho State University. National television distribution was via Idaho Public Television and NETA. The series is narrated by Merlin Olsen, with an original musical score by Paul Morehouse. Stefan A. Sommer was the project director. Funding was provided by the National Science Foundation.

The series is available as a boxed set. A durable slipcase contains all three one-hour productions, with each program on a separate VHS videocassette. All programs are closed captioned for the hearing impaired.

Links to Related Sites

The Natural Heritage Center
Idaho Museum of Natural History
Pocatello, ID

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