Top 5 Communities and Forests Documentaries

Welcome to Part Four of our four-part forest documentary series. We’ve scoured the land to bring you a curated list of the best documentaries about forests! Not sure what to watch this weekend? Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered.

Humanity and forests are interconnected. Communities rely on forests for protection from storms and flooding, for water and air purification, for recreation and healing. When a community’s forests are destroyed, it has devastating and wide reaching impacts. Here you’ll find moving and powerful documentaries that tell the stories of the connections between people and forests and of the communities who fought to keep their precious forests standing.

forests and communities documentaries
Each morning, Candi Simon and other citizens of the Elsipogtog First First Nation set out to disrupt or stop trucks exploring for Natural Gas, resulting in confrontations, with the company and police. Photo credit: Michael Premo

Mossville: When Great Trees Fall

This documentary takes us to Mossville, Louisiana. 14 petrochemical plants surround the town. Mossville is the future site of apartheid-born South African-based chemical company Sasol’s newest plant. A $21.2 billion project and the largest in the western hemisphere. Here we find Stacey Ryan, the only resident of Mossville. Ryan has lost both parents to cancer and seen the neighborhood he grew up in demolished to make way for Sasol’s new multi-billion dollar project. He is the last man standing in the way of the plant’s expansion, and he is refusing to leave. Where to watch: Available on Amazon Prime, iTunes, and Google Play.


During 2015, Everett Custom Homes purchased a property in Portland’s Eastmoreland Neighborhood. On the lot stood three giant sequoias, which the developer planned to cut down. Giants details the efforts and challenges neighbors of Eastmoreland confronted in their attempts to save these unique trees. The film brings a fresh look into local activism and the importance of community organizing.

Water Warriors

Water Warriors is the story of a community’s resistance against the oil and natural gas industry. When a Texas-based energy company began searching for natural gas in New Brunswick, Canada, a multicultural group of Indigenous and white families united to drive out the company in a campaign to protect their water and way of life. Where to watch: Streaming on PBS.

Above All Else

This documentary is an intimate portrait of a group of landowners and activists in East Texas who tried to stop the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. A $7 billion project slated to carry tar sands oil from Canada to Texas Gulf Coast refineries. Risking financial ruin, personal safety, and family security, these people’s stories of resistance and direct action explore the human spirit and how social change happens in America. Where to watch: Available on Amazon Prime and Google Play.

Stories Happen in Forests

12 people. In the woods. Telling their stories. Dogwood Alliance’s own Amanda Rodriguez hiked out into the forests of the Southeast to listen. What she found in the power of story and in our connections to forests is more important now than ever. Forests hold our stories. Our history. Our dreams. Our strength. Our future. Humanity happens in forests. Stories happen in forests. Where to watch: Available to screen worldwide in Fall of 2021.

Be sure to check out the others in our 4-part top forest documentaries series:

Part 1: Top 5 Forest Preservation Documentaries
Part 2: Top 5 Forest Restoration Documentaries
Part 3: Top 5 Old Growth Forest Documentaries

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