“Can a human wolfpack help regenerate the Caledonian forest?”
This is the question raised by the Trees for Life charity when faced with the lack of young trees in Scotland’s natural regions. Indeed, the lack of predators such as wolves and lynxes (exterminated by human beings) damaged the regeneration of native trees that are not given the time to grow to maturity before being grazed by deer.
The constant cat and mouse chase of predators and preys meant that the deer, always on their toes, never stayed in one place and overgrazed an area. This kept the fauna physically healthy and let the flora grow – but now, trees are growing older with no new sprout to take their place.
The solution? Mimic the lost predators by having a group of humans make random, nightly excursions into the forest to scare the deer away from key areas.
All this and more is explained in Lisa Marley’s short film that takes a look into this “Project Wolf” by interviewing the founder of the charity, the project manager, the owner of the Culligran Estate and three different volunteers of the project.
While the first three are most interesting in giving an analysis of the current situation and explaining the project, the volunteers interviewed are people foreign from Scotland, with their own backgrounds and motivation. Following them on one of their nocturnal walks provides other reasons than ecological activism to agree to the project, like being able to enjoy the surrounding nature in unconventional ways or simply meeting new people.
Specialized in wild life filmmaking (as can attest her previous short film, “Red Sky on the Black Isle”), Lisa Marley accompanies her documentary with beautiful shots of Scotland’s already magnificent landscapes and of the animals that inhabit it.
Project Wolf is a great introduction to an issue we don’t always think about as well as to one of its solutions: it describes the project, the why, the how, the goals, but also the bigger picture of our decaying relationship with nature.
With its thirty minutes runtime, the film does get a bit redundant, but the repetitiveness helps get the message across more effectively. There could have been a wider discussion, like the involvement of people against the project and therefore an actual debate, but keeping to shedding light on the current program trying to solve the problem at hand is more conscientious – and will hopefully convince people to take part in the project, always in need of volunteers.