Saving America’s Amazon with Ben Raines – Half-Earth

Image of a stream

Documentary Filmmaker and author Ben Raines Tells E.O. Wilson and Alabama Biodiversity Stories

“The hours I spent there were among the happiest of my life… In the swamp I was a wanderer in a miniature wilderness. I never encountered another person there, never heard a distant voice, or automobile, or airplane. The only tracks in the mud I saw were those of wild animals… Although I held no title, the terrain and its treasures belonged entirely to me in every sense that mattered.” – E.O. Wilson

These videos feature Ben Raines, Alabama-resident, expedition captain, filmmaker, and conservationist. He’s dubbed Alabama’s Mobile-Tensaw Delta “America’s Amazon” for the biodiversity bounty the watershed is home to. Although Alabama is the beloved birthplace of E.O. Wilson most people don’t know that it harbors the most diverse forests and aquatic systems in North America.

Learn how Ben meets E.O. Wilson Lying on the Forest Floor and without formal science training becomes an ardent ecologist.

Exploring by boat, wader, and boot Ben Raines gives us a personal tour of the outstanding biodiversity to be discovered in Alabama

In his works as explorer and documentary filmmaker, Ben sleuthed the location of the last slaving ship to reach US shores, the Clotilda. Alabama has a diverse, fascinating, and sometimes tragic cultural history. To understand and save Alabama’s biodiversity, we need deeper engagement with its history and important lifeways. 

Bonus Video: At the Crossroads: Biodiversity, Civil Rights, and Science Education from the Black Belt to Paint Rock

Joel Johnson moderates a discussion with Patience Knight, Phillip Howard, and Bill Finch. Alabaman’s working to protect and celebrate biodiversity and rich cultural heritage.

Connectivity in America’s Amazon
Journalist, filmmaker, and environmental activist Ben Raines turns his attention to Alabama’s Tensaw Delta in his gorgeously illustrated and meticulously researched book, Saving America’s Amazon: The Threats to Our Nation’s Most Biodiverse River System. Read Chapter 9 “Dam It All” where Raines explores the connectivity among the Tensaw Delta’s waterways and species.

Alabama Public Television presents “America’s Amazon”
“America’s Amazon” presents a visually stunning look at the Mobile-Tensaw Delta in Alabama, covering everything from the ancient climatic forces that shaped its evolution to its remarkable biological richness to current developments that place increased pressure on its fragile ecosystems. The film was produced by Mary Riser, Lynn Rabren and Ben Raines.

Educator Resources – Where Would be Without our Watersheds?
This Watershed PI Activity June 2021 places Alabama’s Mobile-Tensaw Delta in the important context of understanding watersheds. We all live in and depend on watersheds, for our drinking water, for agriculture, transportation, waste removal, and industry. Students need to realize that they are essential in supporting biodiversity everywhere. The activity focuses on the comparison with the massive Mississippi River watershed and then encourages students to explore the watershed they live in. By the end of this activity students will know what a watershed is, identify the watershed they live in, and appreciate some of the incredible biodiversity supported by watersheds.

Interactive Watershed Activity!
Visit the River Runner site to follow a rain drop anywhere in the United States. This interactive experience provides a birds-eye view to US watersheds and helps students visualize how our waterways are connected.

Janisse Ray, author of the acclaimed Ecology of a Cracker Childhood lives in the neighboring state of Georgia, in particular home to the unique longleaf pine forest also found in Alabama. In this video chat Janisse talks about growing up low on money but rich on nature and heritage. She also talks about how important teachers were in her life. In this excerpt from Ecology of a Cracker Childhood, Janisse writes about the biodiversity and beauty of the longleaf pine forest.

Compare ×
Compare National Report Cards Continue Reviewing