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Overseas Media On The West Coast

Press Release from Brian Swale, campaigner for sustainable indigenous forest management.
26 November 2000.

West Coast Sustainable Indigenous Forest Management Attracts Overseas Attention.

With the approach of summer, world media have begun to investigate the cutting-edge sustainable indigenous forest management developed and implemented by Timberlands.

National Geographic Magazine is reported as preparing to commission a series of articles about biodiversity, conservation and significant recent action, and a London-based writer is understood to be examining the potential of the West Coast forest management recent history for this series.

At the moment, a BBC location crew of about 80 is investigating potential subjects at Saltwater and Okarito forests, and near Hokitika for a big BBC documentary, reported Barry Nicolle chairman of Coast Action Network, the body set up to provide some ginger into getting business working on the Coast. He has been helping them with their investigation.

"Fingers crossed we get it here." he said. The filming should be a good boost to local business.

Finally, he reported that a Danish TV crew has recently spent time at Saltwater forest, filming the minimal-impact helicopter logging done by Timberlands as an integral part of sustainable forest management. He said that they had captured the entire sequence of the operation on film - from selection, felling, helicopter lifting, through to processing for high-value product, and he had helped coordinate forestry operations to assist with the filming.

Former operations manager for Timberlands West Coast Ltd, Mr Kit Richards, took some time out of his busy consultancy schedule to explain to the crew in detail the basis and working of the sustainable management process and helped interpret the field work for them. The television team were very impressed with the competence of the work and were absolutely amazed to learn that the work and expertise is about to be discarded, Barry added. They found it difficult to understand how scientific and management advances which set an example for the world could be negated in an educated country.

Explanation of the local decision-making scene also covered just how New Zealand, once a world-leader in social and political enlightenment, has now regressed to the point that regional contracts or accords can be broken by central government apparently without any ethical disquiet.

“They learned about the forthcoming impact on the economy and lives of West Coasters who depend on this sustainable work, and how the furniture industry of New Zealand will soon be deprived of New Zealand indigenous wood and will be compelled to resort to using timber logged unsustainably in prime forests overseas.” said Mr Nicolle. New Zealand already imports about $1,100 million worth per annum of forest products including furniture and timber for furniture manufacture, and they understood how this will increase.

Next year, Scandinavian television throughout Denmark, Norway, Finland and Sweden will see seven 30-minute programmes on New Zealand, covering daily lives of New Zealanders in a style reminiscent of the Heartland series we are familiar with here. West Coast indigenous forest management will be a significant part of this series. Millions of viewers will see the programmes, the TV crew told Mr Nicolle.

Mr Nicolle added that it has been a great opportunity to show the history and beauty of the West Coast to the world, and the TV team had finished off their tour by visiting Reefton and Waiuta before leaving New Zealand via Christchurch. The BBC filming is likely to give even greater coverage due to its length.

It will be surprising if the Danish material is not shown elsewhere in Europe and the world. It could be a tidy earner for them with other countries wanting to learn by seeing how New Zealand forestry practitioners developed and implemented sustainable forestry methods to perpetuate the forest, enhance endangered biota, and provide a potentially perpetual yield of high-value timber for New Zealand.

One has to wonder how it is, that while overseas media see the importance of this New Zealand example of sustainability in action, domestic television has been quite unable to.
...............................................................................................................
Brian Swale is a forestry professional who supports the practice of environmentally sound sustainable forestry.
He can be contacted at http://www.caverock.net.nz/~bj/beech/ and 03-326- 7447.


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