Pourquoi protéger la nature? Enquête philosophique à travers le monde

Help us to fund our project: to travel around the world to make a cycle of philosophical documentaries about ecology!

Project visual Pourquoi protéger la nature? Enquête philosophique à travers le monde
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Pourquoi protéger la nature? Enquête philosophique à travers le monde



To travel around the world to make a cycle of philosophical documentaries about ecology!

The common theme of this project is the following question: “Why should we respect nature?”


Why explore the philosophical side of ecology today?

Because I am convinced that it is too often pushed into the background. Yet, philosophy can help us to shed new light on many debates about ecology. To give a few examples: should we give priority to the woodcutter’s jobs or to the forest? Are we allowed to kill animals to eat them? Should we build a wind farm if it destroys the biodiversity or the beauty of the landscape? All these questions reveal conflicts between different philosophical positions. It’s precisely the topic of my investigation!


The style

The process is to submerge the viewer into an aesthetic, contemplative and reflexive adventure. Music, quotations, and beautiful pictures of nature filmed into wonderful natural environments around the world will punctuate the reflection that will be built into each film, which is intended to be for everyone without being naive nor simplistic.






—  A cycle of documentaries, each of them exploring a particular answer to the question “Why should we respect nature?”

—  A summary film

—  An exhibition of photographs

—  A book mingling pictures and philosophical reflections

—  A conference


The episodes

Each episode will thus attempt to provide an overview of a possible answer to the question of respect for nature, by investigating not only the positive aspects but also the negative ones. There will be several interviewees, at least one academic and one “practitioner” in each episode. Each viewer would be free to create his own opinion. The length of each episode would be around 50 minutes.


Here is a non-exhaustive list of the potential episodes. Should we respect nature…


— because it is beautiful? (the aesthetical question)

— because it makes us feel good? (the “natural” therapies and medicines, the inspiration, etc.)

— because it is sacred? (the question of the ecological side of religions and spiritualities such as Buddhism, Animism, Shinto, etc.)

— because it is our family? (the land ethic of John Baird Callicott, etc.)

— because it has a value in itself? (Tom Regan and the animal rights, biocentrism, deep ecology, etc.)

— because without it, our specie will not be able to survive? (the intergenerational ethics)

— because it is cost-effective? (natural resources, green capitalism, ecotourism, etc.)

— because it is sensitive to pain? (Peter Singer (which has already agreed to be interviewed!! :)) and the animal liberation)

Those episodes could be a good pedagogical material for schools, associations linked with ecology, etc.


By way of pilot, a first exploration of the beauty of common nature with Etienne Hubin, a wildlife photographer:



The summary film

A two hours summary film will summarize the philosophical reflection of all the episodes!

In my craziest dreams, this film would be in theaters! :)


The photograph’s exhibition

We will make an exhibition of our pictures after our trip, waiting to be seen in different places!


The book

The book would mingle our best pictures and the philosophical reflection of the summary film. We hope to find a publisher to fund it!


The conference

Talking about our experience around the world and about our philosophical reflection!






The idea is to travel around the world during one year in order to reap images showing the beauty of nature, and to meet not only philosophers but also people who are working for the protection of nature or who are in narrow link with it...


Iceland (5 weeks in July-August 2016): We will go to Iceland by taking the ferry in order to visit its mysterious lands with our own car. Elves and sprites, protected springs, unclear relation with the whales, we will have many things to investigate!


United States (3 months in September-October-November): The (big!) land that came up with the concept of nature reserve! We will try to meet great philosophers which have been working about ecology, before making a road trip to discover the great national parks of the West and its wildlife, colored by the tints of fall (Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, etc.)!


Costa Rica (one month and a half from mid-November to the end of December): We will go there to meet people who struggle for the protection of the astonishing biodiversity of Costa Rica. Sloths, cute monkeys, crocodiles, we will see many animals!


Patagonia (2 months in January and February): Moving from Argentina to Chile, we will travel into these huge windblown lands, with our camera at hand, and we will try to meet the Mapuches, the last natives of these lands, having a special relation to nature, the Mother Earth…


Japan (2 months in March and April): We expect much from the springtime in Japan and its plum trees and cherry trees in flower… We will also explore the culture of the Japanese gardens, which blurs the lines between nature and culture, as well as Shintoism and the spirits of nature...


Morocco (2 months in Mai and June): Just before the warmth touristic season, we will explore its deserts, coasts and mountains! We will try to meet “Terre et Humanisme Maroc”, founded by Pierre Rabhi...


The itinerary can evolve in the course of our trek and our meetings, time will tell ;)








Pascale Smeesters

I’ve studied philosophy and ethics at the catholic university of Louvain-la-Neuve in Belgium and I have worked a lot on philosophy of ecology in the framework of my master’s thesis. I have learned film direction not only through various trainings but also through my own practice. I have in fact directed several short movies and documentaries by myself, of which two won awards. I do also nature photography and I am passionate about light. I make an incessant effort to improve my work! My films are available on my website : http://pascalesmeesters.com/


My Facebook’s page:




Bao Long Dang Van, the husband :)

Belgian of Vietnamese origin, he has also studied philosophy. Also passionate about nature photography, he is my favorite technical assistant :) He loves writing and will not fail to do so on the blog and in the book! He’s also an experienced musician, since he’s playing the darbuka, an Arabic percussion, which he will not fail to bring with us during our trip!


Our material:

— Two Pentax cameras (the brand new K-1 and the K-3 II), various high quality lenses (14mm, 12-24mm, 35mm, 50mm, 90mm, 300mm), tripods, etc.

— Audio recorder Zoom H6, standard and shotgun microphones.




Allocation of funds

Needs : 5500 euros

This cost covers the travel costs between the different destinations (ferry and planes) for one person, plus the fees for Kiss Kiss Bank Bank (8%) and the compensations (around 20%).


In fact, our trip around the world will cost approximatively 30 000 euros (transportations, accommodations, food, equipment)… Why then asking for only 5500 euros? Because if the amount isn’t reached, we won’t receive anything… Therefore, don’t hesitate to exceed this amount to support us more! :)


What will be produced during our trip:

— Throughout the trip, an online blog on which we will tell (in french) our adventures, publish our pictures and maybe also video clips!

— Nature and culture’s pictures

— Video recordings (nature images, interviews of philosophers and practitioners in the protection of nature, etc.) for the documentaries


When can you expect to receive your compensations?

Regarding the pictures’ printings, they should be ready from September 2017.

Regarding the documentaries, I give myself one extra year after my return for filming the last interviews in Europe and for editing; they should thus be ready from September 2018!

Regarding the provisions of services, contact me from september 2017 to fix a date together!


Patience is the mother of all virtues :)




Thank you so much for your support that helps me to go ahead!


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