Need to know about biodiversity

” We cannot think of having a stable society on this planet, if the biological matrix that sustains us is broken.”

Last week, we had a visit from distinguished Mexican Professor José Sarukhán Kermez from the Institute of Ecology, National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and also the Co-ordinator of the National Committee on the Study and Conservation of Biodiversity [Mexico].

In a down-to-earth manner, the professor helped us understand the incredible importance of biodiversity regarding sustenance, climate change, current agricultural systems and the future. After our interview, Professor Sarukhan visited GEIC where he met with several of our specialist researchers and then later delivered a lecture at the UNU entitled “Mexico: The Privileges and Challenges of a Megadiverse Country.”

For more information, please visit UNU’s biodiversity page.

by Citt Williams on May 26, 2009 - Comments (00)  

Best Documentary

zapataVoices of the Chichinautzin was awarded Best Science and Ecology Documentary at the 2nd IberoAmerican Film Festival held in Tepotzlan, Mexico, 11-18 May 2008.

Luis Patron, from the UNU Media Studio, was on hand to pick up the special Zapata statue. He was also present at the screening and participated in the follow-on question and answer session.

The documentary tells the story of the daily struggles of the local communities as they try to protect a biodiverse region outside Mexico City from illegal logging and development pressures. It was written, directed and co-produced by Patricia Sims, produced and co-directed by Luis Patron and edited by Michael Clark. The graphics and animations were produced by Sean Wood and David Jimenez.

The documentary will be screened on television in Mexico later this year.

Note: The photo of the statue is taken from the festival website.

by Brendan Barrett on November 13, 2009 - Comments (01)  

The Chichinautzin communities remember Aldo Zamora

On the lands of the Tlahuica communityOn 15 May I traveled to the Lagunas de Zempoala National Park in central Mexico to join an event organized by the Tlahuica community of San Juan Atzingo and Greenpeace . They commemorated one year of the death of Aldo Zamora, a young environmentalist from this indigenous community who was killed by illegal loggers. The story of this tragic event is told in the UNU-produced documentary Voices of the Chichinautzin.


For me it was good to meet again Aldo’s father Ildefonso Zamora, and the Thahuica Chief Alejandro Ramirez, two of the key people featured in the documentary. I had the opportunity of giving them a DVD copy of the video, and visit their land and projects for the whole day.

I am happy to report that things had changed a lot in the area since the last time I have been there. Following Aldo’s death, the massive incursion of the army and police forces has caused illegal logging activities to decrease on an estimated 95%. The Tlahuicas have also received lots of material support from several government agencies, which includes trucks and uniforms (see photo) among other things. Their ecotourism project in the Tonatihua lagoon has been built and is already receiving visitors. Perhaps most importantly, after a legal battle which spanned several decades, the ownership of 18,000 hectares of their lands had finally been given official government recognition.

However, this success story has a very bad downside. A year has passed and justice has not been done, as the identified killers of Aldo Zamora have not been captured.

by luis on May 21, 2008 - Comments (00)  

Opening ceremony of Iberoamerican Documentary Festival in Tepoztlan, Mexico.

Some images from the opening ceremony of the Iberoamerican Documentary Festival in Tepoztlan, Mexico. The UNU-produced documentary Voices of the Chichinautzin is part of the official selection of the festival.

by luis on June 16, 2008 - Comments (00)  

Launch of Voices of the Chichinautzin Website

voices_of_the_chichinautzin3.jpgFrom today, 11 December 2007, it is possible to view online the trailer for the new documentary from the UNU Media Studio entitled “Voices of the Chichinautzin.”
Chichinautzin is a biological corridor just outside Mexico City and the documentary shows how this beautiful land is the setting for desperate and at times violent struggles between indigenous communities and powerful interests.
Illegal logging has emerged as a major issue affecting the sustainability of this natural protected area. Local scientists, community groups and government agencies are working together, and harnessing traditional knowledge, to find a long term development path that balances the need for conservation with the security of local livelihoods.
The documentary was produced by the UNU Media Studio and directed and co-produced by Patricia Sims, co-directed and produced by Luis Patron. The UNU Media Studio wishes to thank all our collaborators who supported this project and especially the scientific team at REDMESO, led by Topiltzin Contreras from the Autonomous University of the State of Morelos.
You can learn more about this documentary at the following websites:

by Brendan Barrett on December 11, 2007 - Comments (00)  

Award for Saving the Ayuquila River

Ayuquila for blog-3.jpgThe UNU Media Studio is pleased to announce that the documentary and e-case study entitled “Saving the Ayuquila River” has received the 2007 Award of Excellence in the education division of the Society for New Communications Research Awards programme.
The Society honors innovative individuals, corporations, nonprofit organizations, educational institutions and media outlets for the use of social media, ICT, mobile media, online communities, virtual worlds and collaborative technologies in the areas of media, marketing, public relations, advertising, entertainment, education, politics and social initiatives.
The Saving the Ayuquila River video documentary and e-case study was developed by the UNU Media Studio in collaboration with the University of Guadalajara, Mexico and illustrates how scientists can work in local communities to bring about positive environmental changes.

by Brendan Barrett on November 13, 2009 - Comments (00)  

Recording session for Chichinautzin documentary

Recording session for Chichinautzin documentaryI just came back from Victoria, Canada where audio postproduction activities for the UNU-produced documentary Voices of the Chichinautzin are being done. These include narration recording, sound design and mix, and music composition.
This was done at Digiheadz Studio, with sound designer and mixer Tony Moskal ( ). Tony has lots of experience recording and mixing audio for documentaries, including productions for Discovery Channel and National Geographic.
We had selected Canadian actress and voice-over talent Nicole Oliver ( ) to be our voice. Nicole’s wide experience came handy to deliver the required performance under the guidance of Director Patricia Sims. The narration includes quite a few Spanish and Nahuatl terms, so part of my role was to coach Nicole in the proper pronunciation, which she nailed after a couple of tries. The whole recording process took about 5 hours.
For the Spanish version of the documentary we wanted a neutral Spanish voice, with a subtle Mexican accent. Options for this in the Victoria area in Canada were limited, so we found our voice in Mexico City. Recording had to be done in Mexico, so we got PianiMusic Studios ( in Mexico City for this purpose. As we wanted to direct the recording session, we connected to PianiMusic using Skype from the Digiheadz Studio, so we could hear and give guidance. Nallely’s experience was not as diverse as that of Nicole, yet she also did a great job and delivered the type of performance we were after.
As the last part of the process, we recorded an English version of brief segments of some of the interviews, which were originally delivered in Spanish. This technique is often used in TV, and the way it works is that when you have an interview sequence, you leave the person speaking for a couple of seconds in his native language, and after that you put on top an audio track where the same things are said in English by a narrator. This requires a bit of acting to match the tone and energy of the person in the interview, so we had four native Spanish speaker actors for this purpose.
It all went well, and the recorded tracks are ready to be mixed, but for that we have to wait until music composition is completed, which will happen very soon.

by luis on November 20, 2007 - Comments (01)  

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