In a series of ten film vignettes, we illuminate the wonderment of the proposed Great Forest National Park
Place: Capturing the majesty of the giant trees and ancient rocks that have existed here for millions of years - the rhythms of the life from the early morning mist to light filtering through the canopy mid-day. A cinematic portrait of the beauty held within this ancient forest. Cameras swept over the tops of the mountain ash trees and the largest flowering plant in the world while we capture the tiniest creatures rustling through the leaves below. This piece can be used both for projections and viral pieces online.
Adventure: Australia is synonymous with adventure. People travel across the world to experience the wonder of our natural world in the backyard of cityscapes like Melbourne. Here we’ll follow renowned adventure athlete, Jeff Shapiro, as he and his comrades venture through the landscape from climbing exhaustingly tall ancient ash trees to flying across the landscape from the bird’s eye perspective in wing-suits and kayaking down pristine rivers that feeds the water supply of Melbourne.
Science: Scientists discuss the forests as an ecosystem, watershed for Melbourne and capture carbon to light climate change. Here we follow one of the pioneering scientists as he illustrates the unseen beauty that science is discovering about this forest. Citizen scientists who volunteer tirelessly to save near extinct animals.
People: Logging has been king in this landscape. Ancient trees have been felled and then churned into paper pulp as a driver of the economy. But there’s so much more here for the people surrounding this landscape. We’ll craft short narratives of people who are re-imagining uses for the Great Forest from foragers who find new sources of gourmet food, guest house owners, viticulturists and ecotourists who look at new ways for people to experience this environment as a pristine getaway. This piece will also touch on the indigenous community and their connection to this country. These are the portraits of people deeply in love with a landscape that sustains their life and livelihood while encouraging the broader community to see opportunity in a forest.
Finale: Our final story is an amalgam of all these faces and characters and creatures we’ve found along our journey. This is a light-hearted and charming way to capture the wonderment of the forest through the eyes of our adventurers, scientists and even the creatures who inhabit the landscape. This piece showcases all the different ways one can inhabit and interact with The Great Forest National Park.
How does the project meet the aims of a philanthropic foundation?
The Ash forests are collapsing. In 2015, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) listed Victoria’s Mountain Ash forest ecosystem on their red-list as ‘critically endangered’. The Mountain Ash forests have been disturbed to the point that their ongoing viability is no longer assured. This disturbance is largely due to fires, logging and fragmentation. These forests face additional pressure from rising temperatures, reduced rainfall, failed regrowth and the accelerated attrition of old growth trees. There is only 1 per cent of old growth ash forest left in the system, unlogged and unburned.
Old forests produce more water, logging and fires create young forests, so with 98% of Melbourne's drinking water, and flows to the north of the divide, dependant on these forests, disturbance must be reduced in the system to increase water yields. Logging not only costs water but liberates carbon equivalent to a third of the Yallourn power station annually. Key species such as Victoria’s faunal emblem, the Leadbeater’s Possum (canary in the coal mine) are also going extinct, as is Greater Glider and Baw Baw frog. To prevent extinction, the forests must be secured in the Great Forest National Park.
Five internationally peer-reviewed. published science papers, and two major government studies, all point to benefits of the Great Forest National Park (GFNP) concept as a comprehensive reserve to arrest collapse. Additionally, the park offers benefits to regional communities still getting back on their feet after fires, and in 2017, a study on the regional benefits of the GFNP demonstrated direct employment of 750 FTEs, added economic benefit of more than $70 million per year and increased tourism visitation of more than 400,000 visitors per year.
Through the eyes of traditional owners, local businesses, adventurers and local voices, these films will inspire community spirit, care for a landscape that has suffered under fires and logging and promote the land values to community, government and investors. The films will educate on the science and conservation needs of these important and complex ecosystems and offer windows into the forests so close to Melbourne, inviting investors into opportunities to create new activities in an awe-inspiring landscape. It’s a unique approach to inspire conservation and regional investment through business disruption, where a new business approach is designed for health benefits, as opposed to an old one that broadly degrades the asset for little financial benefit, such as logging does. The vignettes will be deployed over a campaign period of 12 months to aid in educating and celebrating Melbourne’s most important ecological asset, and ensure the state government protect it in a park - The Great Forest National Park.
What outcomes do you hope to achieve by making this film and how will you measure its impact?
Aims & Objectives
The films measures of success are as follows:
Declaration of the Great Forest National Park by government in 2018.
To have 1 million views.
Business sector support via a community/business/government program to invest in new experiences in the forests.
Increased understanding of the role and history of traditional owners.
Increased knowledge and understanding of the forests in their provision of water and other ecosystem benefits to Melbourne.
Increased awareness about the importance of science in informing management of critical ecosystems.
Increased social media support to 32,000 Facebook followers.
Increased Ambassadorial support to 100.
Utilisation of the vignettes across campaigns by lead ENGOs working on the campaign; Friends of the Earth, The Wilderness Society, The Australian Conservation Foundation, Environment Victoria, Environmental Justice Australia etc…
An award for recognition of the contribution made by community and skilled specialists in the production and distribution of this film and associated program.
What is your education and outreach strategy?
The Great Forest National Park concept was designed by community and scientists as a response to the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires, trending extinction and to create an opportunity for tourism and jobs in the Central Highlands. The project uses a ‘benefits’ campaign rather than a ‘negatives’ campaign, and as such has built an enormous array of support. Polling shows one in five Victorians now know about the GFNP proposal and 9/10 support it. The website enjoys more than 650 unique page views a week with no search engine optimisation. The project is openly supported by 30 non-government organisations, and more than 100 businesses, 50 profile ambassadors and it’s growing. Several universities are also involved with projects designed to create the park, associated with this are many students volunteers and groups. The Facebook program boasts 16,000 followers with a native approval of an average of 300 likes per post without advertising and boosts. There are schools also actively involves including the Geography Teachers Association of Victoria depicting the benefits of the park in state curriculum. The 3000 digital newsletters sent out enjoy an opening rate of more than 50%, we hope to grow this as films are an easy education media. To date the national media have written several stories about the park, its received TV broadcast, radio and is regularly referred to in stories by the major broadsheets.
The outreach opportunity is significant with very little budget, however with more budget, we can grow our impact. The films will be subject to creative commons license and free for use by all GFNP supporters. Thats the basis of the GFNP modus operandi , everything we do is for everyone.
These films educate on park subjects, creatively and artistically. The thinking behind creating 5 small films is to have a broader appeal as each vignette will be targeted to a specific audience and set of values - they will be promoted with photos and memes along side a public campaign to protect Victoria’s last great forest by way of media, social media and in public presentations by proponents of the park.