Interview with Dr. Michael Tobias

Radio New Zealand

Dr Michael Tobias is an ecologist, historian, filmmaker and author. He is also a leading light in the 'sanctuary' movement.

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Conservationist to attend Celebration of Books


By James D. Watts, Jr., World Scene Writer

Oklahoma was one of the places considered for the film "Hotspots." That the state failed to end up in the finished documentary, however, is a good thing in the eyes of Michael Tobias.

Tobias, the executive director of the Dancing Star Foundation, is a writer and filmmaker who has devoted himself to issues of conservation, wildlife preservation and bio-diversity.

Tobias, along with his wife and frequent collaborator Jane Gray Morrison, will be at the Oklahoma Center for Poets and Writers' Celebration of Books on Saturday. They will take part in panel discussions on wildlife and conservation in life and literature, and will host a screening of their latest film, "Hotspots," at 7 p.m. at the Circle Cinema, 10 S. Lewis Ave.

"A hot spot refers to a place on Earth — specifically on land — that contains at least 1,500 flowering plants endemic to the region, 70 percent of which are threatened with extinction," Tobias said, speaking by phone from New Zealand, where he is observing the re-introduction of two rare species of birds to an ecological preserve there.

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Eco-warrior Michael Tobias

Radio Live New Zealand

Auckland - Graeme Hill talks with Michael Tobias about the urgent need to step-up worldwide conservation efforts in critical conservation hotspots like New Zealand.

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Gaetano Leone, United Nations Environmental Program

HOTSPOTS was shown at the Regional Office for Europe of UNEP on 4 September 2008, to an audience of diplomats, UN staff, and NGOs. There are many good documentaries on wild life, but less on conservation - HOTSPOTS fills this gap. From one corner of Earth to the other, the film grabbed our attention with the passion of its message, the fast-paced rhythm, and the familiarity of its language. It successfully advocates that new policies and practices at all scales, re-emerging sustainable agricultural practices, collaboration among economic sectors, and mainstreaming of biodiversity and conservation issues into all levels of decision-making will contribute to a more secure future for the diverse life on our planet and for sustainable development.

Gaetano Leone
Deputy Director, Regional Office for Europe
United Nations Environment Programme

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Dr. Jane Smart, International Union for the Conservation of Nature

'This film is a real rather than a chocolate box depiction of life in the hotspots, compellingly brought to life by Russ Mittermeier, one of the world's greatest living naturalists. He brings into startling focus both the challenge we face in securing their future and the wonder of the animal and plant life still remaining'

Dr Jane Smart OBE
Head, IUCN Species Programme

Hotspots revealed

Wild Talk (IUCN/WWF)

Geneva - Wild Talk is taken on a magical mystery tour of the world's hotspots by Michael Tobias, who followed Russ Mittermeier during the making of his film Hotspots. We travel from Madasgcar to the city lights of Los Angeles as Michael describes what the crew saw on their way and discusses the importance of conserving these wonderfully rich areas of biodivserity.

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Saving Species and Habitats

Radio New Zealand

Auckland - Nine to Noon’s Kathryn Ryan interviews leading environmentalist, and environmental film maker, Michael Tobias who has just completed a mammoth 20-year film project.

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HOTSPOTS US television premiere on KQED


San Francisco - In the late 1980s, scientists coined a word, " hotspots " that referred to those areas on the planet which were populated by the largest number of unique plant, animal and insect species at risk of going extinct, a definition that pivots upon the number of flowering plants (at least 1500 different species) and the amount of habitat already lost (at least 70%). Since the 1980’s, the number of areas characterized as "hotspots" has increased to 35, encompassing approximately 2.3 percent of the Earth's terrestrial surface area. The book, Hotspots, and its updated version, Hotspots Revisited, were authored by Dr. Russell Mittermeier and several colleagues. Their work, and that of many hundreds of scientific collaborators throughout the world, has demonstrated that human beings have what it takes to resolve ecological conflict and restore balance to those unique habitats most at risk, thus saving literally hundreds of millions, if not billions of individual lives.

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Hotspots highlighted in new film


Geneva - Hotspots, a film by Michael Tobias, was shown for the first time in Europe at IUCN on Friday, September 5.

Based on the book “Hotspots Revisited” by Russell Mittermeier, the feature film documentary examines some of the world’s 35 hotspots, regions that have been identified by scientist as being particularly rich in species.

The film follows Russell Mittermeier, who is the Chair of IUCN’s Primate Specialist Group and President of Conservation International, to locations including Madagascar, Brazil, Peru, and New Zealand.

The film reveals numerous primates, birds, rodents, bats, insects, reptiles, amphibians and unique plants, some of which have never been filmed before. Several new species are recorded on film for the first time.

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New eco-documentary racks focus on 6th mass extinction and the race to reverse it


LOS ANGELES - Just as humanity comes to grips with global warming, the world's leading biologists now warn us that a larger evolutionary event looms on the horizon, an unprecedented mass extinction already underway that threatens to exterminate up to 60 percent of all life forms on Earth before the end of this century. 
HOTSPOTS, a sobering but optimistic made-for-television two-hour feature film documentary by husband-and-wife producing team Michael Tobias and Jane Gray Morrison, takes cameras deep inside critical conservation areas on the front lines of efforts to hold ground for besieged biodiversity and find common ground for economic and ecological interests.

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Leading environmentalist presents special screening of Hotspots at Auckland Museum

Auckland Museum

Disappearing species and loss of habitat. Is it too late for our planet? Is it too late for New Zealand?

Not according to Dr Michael Tobias, leading environmentalist and writer-director of acclaimed documentary Hotspots – who will introduce a special screening of his film to audiences at Auckland Museum in September.

The film reveals how inspired conservation efforts are succeeding throughout the world. Hotspots refers to those areas of our planet populated by the largest number of unique plant, animal and insect species at risk of extinction.

Shot in multiple locations throughout New Zealand, United States, Peru, Brazil, Madagascar and Chile’s Easter Island, this epic conveys good reasons to be hopeful, while reminding us of the precious array of life on Earth, the very creation at stake in this generation.

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Man's erosion of Earth in focus


By Kristin S. Agostoni, Staff Writer

For three years, Michael Tobias traveled the globe documenting the daunting efforts under way to protect threatened plants and wildlife.

He's followed a stewardship program to protect an endangered parrot species in New Zealand and the native plantings occurring on Easter Island, once home to rich palm forests before humans ripped them from the landscape.

This weekend, the anthropologist, ecologist and filmmaker will bring those stories and others to the South Bay, which will get an early look at the new documentary he produced with his wife, fellow ecologist Jane Gray Morrison.

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Film calls for conservation of life in biological hot spots


Seda Terzyan, Bruin contributor

With thousands of animal and plant species becoming extinct each day, many researchers call for a reversal of the destruction caused by human life to save the planet.

“Hotspots,” a new documentary being screened exclusively at UCLA tonight, attempts to remind people of the greatness of the planet they inhabit and the importance of conserving life for medical purposes. It takes viewers on an adventure through a handful of the 35 most biologically rich life zones on earth.

“Humans are causing massive extinctions across all taxa, but we can come together and reverse these effects just by saving the hot spots,” said professor Michael Tobias, the director of the film.

By making these locations a priority, conservation ecologists believe humans can affect the future of evolution on a large scale.

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Dr. C. N. Slobodchikoff, Northern Arizona University

Dear Michael,

My wife Judy and I watched your movie the other night and were hugely impressed. From the very start, it is evident that this is a different kind of conservation film. We loved how we, the viewers, were immediately invited “behind the scenes.” We got an immediate impression of Dr. Mittermeier as a man who, more than just spouting lines, is genuinely captured by the beauty and rarity of these precious places and their inhabitants.

We soon recognized how this point of view enables you to give the audience an up-close look at what it’s really like to be a field biologist—Mud spattered, drenched with rain, and having to lug equipment and bodies over swollen rivers, through dense jungle—and yet, the joy when an elusive subject is finally located—It all came through vividly.
All too often, nature programs show the beauty of a place without capturing the dedication of the researchers who are revealing the lives of animals amid clouds of mosquitoes, drenching rains, and stifling heat.

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