2021 Video: Spot News/Feature Reporting - Gold

In their PBS Terra videos, Michael Werner, Joe Hanson, Rachel Raney and Brandon Arolfo explore the ongoing attempts to save two threatened ecosystems―the American prairie and the ancient forests of the Pacific Northwest. “How Bison Are Saving America’s Lost Prairie” focuses on the Joseph H. Williams Tallgrass Prairie Preserve in northeastern Oklahoma, a 40,000-acre expanse where scientists from The Nature Conservancy are using bison to restore the area’s ecosystem after years of destructive overgrazing by cattle. The herd of more than 2,000 bison now helps foster the ecosystem’s rich biodiversity, including a vast array of deep-rooted grass species that offer an important part of Earth’s carbon storage biosphere. “Inside the Fight to Save an Ancient Forest (and the Secrets it Holds)” takes viewers further west, into the old growth rainforests in the Pacific Northwest, an ecosystem that once stretched from Northern California to Southeast Alaska but has mostly been lost to extensive logging. On Vancouver Island, tree sitters are risking their lives to protest efforts to log one of the area’s last remaining ancient forests. Meanwhile, scientists continue to learn more about such ancient trees and what would be lost if they disappear, including the fascinating network of mycorrhizal fungi that live beneath the soil and in organic mats of canopy soils in the treetops. The sweeping cinematography highlights the beauty of each ecosystem, in what author and judge Angela Saini called “masterclasses in filmmaking, setting a benchmark for all short science documentaries." Judge Marnie Chesterton of the BBC, praised the beautiful photography of the segments and added, “I didn't know how important this boring looking grassland is to carbon sinks and biodiversity.” Werner said he has been fascinated by the hidden world of trees, plants and fungi and was looking for ways to tell their story visually. “When I heard about the old growth forest protests happening in British Columbia, I knew I had a compelling human angle to the story. And when I found Korena Mafune's research into canopy soil, I was blown away by the science. I had never heard anything about this before.”