Scientists are great at identifying problems but often less good at communicating them to the public:  that’s where the arts excel. This is the view of Sacha Dench, campaigner, UN Ambassador for Migratory Species and co-founder of Conservation Without Borders.

Sacha is a keynote speaker at the Artful Migration Conference, Dumfries on October 20, where conservationists, artists, academics, bird lovers, scientists and others will explore innovative ways to help migratory species.

Artful Migration has curated three contemporary artists in residencies on reserves and wetlands near the Solway Firth, looking at ospreys, whooper swans and most recently nightjars.

The results underline the power the arts have in engaging people with the natural world.

While academic papers and scientific reports show us the facts, the arts generate emotional experiences that let us understand the facts more fully.

This often spurs us into action. Action is desperately needed if we are to protect our precious birdlife from habitat loss, climate change, increased severe weather events that challenge their migratory flyways.

One artist created an evocative piece projecting images onto a sculpture of melting ice. A second produced a multi-screen installation exploring NTS reserve at Threave, with stories from volunteers who support ospreys during their summer migration.

And running until November at Gracefield Arts Centre, Dumfries, will be Much Ado About Nightjars, an exhibition created by international fine art photographers Ted Leeming and Morag Paterson.

Ted and Morag spent long, midge-infested nights in the Lochar Moss following these shy nocturnal birds currently amber on the endangered species list. They also talked to people restoring the ancient peat bog, to enable this rare visitor to feed and breed here, bringing hope to this colony. Exhibitions and installations are the most visible outcome of the residencies but they do so much more.

The greatest impact comes from the artists’ outreach work with schools and the public. Using social media and online platforms, their enthusiasm has raised the profile of these migratory visitors beyond the art work.

All this means that people, some vast distances apart, start to see why wetlands matter, become enraptured by the wonder of the nightjars and their perilous annual flight to Scotland from Africa and feel dismay at the human actions which are causing their destruction.

By working in partnership with NTS Threave Estate and Reserve, WWT Caerlaverock and Forestry and Land Scotland and RSPB, we have curated contemporary works that have captured the public’s imagination. This conference will reveal the learning over three years and reach out to audiences to continue engaging with this innovative programme.

By collaborating with Upland based in Dumfries & Galloway, we’ve found a vital partner, and shared the adventure of recruiting local artists to become involved in arts and the climate challenge to migratory birds.

Halting the harm to migratory birds is an immense task. The arts offer a chance. But to succeed we need all those who care to come together and plan the way forward.

• Conference tickets from Eventbrite.

Virginia and Nicholas run Moving Souls Dance, which has funded Artful Migration.