Virunga follows a brave group of park rangers in their fight to preserve the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Virunga National Park. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the world’s most biodiverse places and home to the Earth’s remaining mountain gorillas. It is also the most dangerous places to work in conservation. The park and its inhabitants are under constant threat from poachers, armed militia and companies exploiting its natural resources. Tension turns to violence when the rebel group M23 overtakes much of the park. The good news is that gorilla populations have increased since 2014 and conservationists are working with villagers to build new industries and alternatives to war.
Where to Watch: Netflix
Actor and Earth Alliance co-founder Leonardo DiCaprio teams up with National Geographic to sound the alarm on climate change, with moving accounts of the rising sea levels, deforestation and other destruction that humans have wrought. The film arms viewers with solutions, from reducing meat consumption to voting for leaders who will fight for our future. This essential primer is a great pick to educate kids or to sway skeptical friends and family members.
Where to Watch: Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, Netflix, Vudu, YouTube
Sir David Attenborough’s signature, soothing narration takes on a new tone of urgency in Our Planet. Each episode of this eight-part nature docuseries delivers awe-inspiring scenes of an interconnected ecosystem, underscored by the clear message that humans are ruining its balance. As Attenborough warns: “What we do in the next 20 years will determine the future for all life on Earth.” It’s groundbreaking both in its boldness and its videography, using new techniques to capture the calving of a glacier. (For more of the 93-year-old Attenborough’s legendary work, watch Blue Planet II or Planet Earth II on Amazon or YouTube.)
Where to Watch: Netflix
Some environmental documentaries are heavy on problems and light on solutions, but not Tomorrow. With its upbeat, globetrotting search for everyday sustainability innovators, this French film is a refreshingly hopeful watch. Filmmakers Cyril Dion and Mélanie Laurent introduce us to urban gardeners, renewable energy enthusiasts and even reinventors of democracy.
Where to Watch: Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, Vudu, YouTube