The young people created a film representing their experiences of greenspace. Image released free of copyrights under Creative Commons CC0

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Making a participatory video about greenspaces enabled a group of young people to experience and view nature in new, more empathic, ways. It also helped their self-confidence, sense of empowerment and agency.

Participatory video (PV) is a set of techniques to involve a group of people in creating their own film. In this study, we used PV to find out what young people thought of greenspaces. We learnt that their views and experiences of greenspaces were largely negative; the films they created showed this through scenes of bullying and violence.

However, we discovered the PV process itself had many positive impacts on the young people. Filming enabled them to ‘look deeper into nature’. It also allowed them to emotionally connect with nature, which is important in helping people to develop pro-environmental behaviours. One young person said that the experience of filming a roe deer had a profound effect on them:

‘It was the deer that really opened up my eyes… if I litter right now the deer can eat the plastic and that would cause it to die and that’s not right. They have… they have feelings, they have many things. What we feel, they feel as well. If we feel pain, they feel pain.’

This same person said that the PV process had led them to totally change their view of nature and how they can benefit from it. It also led them to change their behaviours: they now stop their siblings from littering, walk to school through the park instead of taking the bus, and use greenspace to relax during exam time. The PV process also helped young people increase their confidence and sense of agency.

Our study shows that PV can help young people engage with local greenspaces, build agency, develop a connection to nature, and adopt pro-environmental behaviours. All these are believed to be critical in halting the trend in biodiversity loss.