Land of Azaba showed a wonderful community of like-minded, passionate people trying to preserve and reserve a place for biodiversity to remain as vibrant as possible in a greedy, abusive world of man. Land of Azaba is the first feature documentary about ecological restoration. The actual nature reserve seen in the film is Campanarios de Azaba Nature Reserve in Western Spain.  This film took a close look into how a small part of the world is trying to make a positive impact in terms of climate change.

While there were some areas of improvement when it came to the pacing and introduction of the community members for the sake of an audience member like me who knows little to nothing about biodiversity outside of the basic Biology lesson, the film did a magnificent job at showing nature in its natural element. It did not look glamourous. In fact, the image that stood out was of a dead horse who workers had to move to a vulture area for him to decompose rather than the field he had laid down in and never gotten back up. It was not much information about his death, but information was provided about where and why they had moved the dead animal. There also seemed to be a scene where the Ecolodge manager was arranging for some men to pick up the animal using someone’s van. The details were a bit confusing, but nonetheless, the audience could tell everyone worked together in this community to make everything work as smoothly as possible for the wildlife.

Another scene that stood out is of two men debating whether to prune or cull some native tree. I am sure the translation could not as accurately convey their passion for the side they believed to be better, but at the end of the conversation, they both laughed and agreed that at the end of the day, they both want what is best for the tree. They wanted to choose the best course of action to make sure the tree lived and thrived to continue serving the larger bio-community. You see other animals near the trees as the men are off to the side discussing the whole time. For these two men, this tree on the property could have been family by the way they were so passionately trying to decide its fate. I am not sure which was better or what they even decided, but the conversation was interesting to watch unfold.

As you may be able to realize by now, the film showed a host of different people all contributing to the environment in Spain. By the end, I believe Greta Schiller, director, producer, and editor, did an excellent job capturing how the local community helps work with nature to see it thrive. Everyone wanted the same thing, to see nature continue living and growing to help everyone, from the trees to insects to the larger animals, like horses and deer. At the end of the documentary, the screen reads: “The United Nations has declared 2020-2030 to be the decade of Ecological Restoration. This work around the world is essential for mitigating climate change and protecting biodiversity.” This film took us inside what this plan looks like on the ground level with folks who care what they leave behind for their children and children’s children. If nothing else, it inspired me to investigate biodiversity on a local level to try and do my part to help positively impact climate change and all life around me, not just humans. Maybe, you will decide to do the same.

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