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March 5, 2021

Capturing the beauty of wetlands

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Annie Benzie and media students Cassie Price and Rohand Langford after handing over the wetlands doco. Photo Melissa Hargraves
(l-r) Annie Benzie, Henry Gooley, Terese Van Twest, Cassie Price and Rohand Langford at the console on which they worked on the wetlands doco. Photo Melissa Hargraves


Melissa Hargraves

North coast screen and media students officially handed over a documentary aimed at helping to raise the profile of wetland management to Wetland Care Australia (WCA) in Lismore last week.

The footage captured the essence of a project to restore and protect 20 iconic wetlands between Bundaberg in Queensland to Kempsey in NSW.

The Coastal 20 project received $2.5 million funding by the Australian government through the Caring for Our Country project that ran over three years.

Cassie Price, regional manager for the northern NSW and south-east Queensland region for WCA told Echonetdaily that ‘most of the funds went to on-ground works such as changing drainage, creating fish passages to planting for habitat.’

Ms Price said that WCA relies heavily on funding for their work and they receive some funding to promote their work to their target audience such as farmers and community wetland groups.

‘As far as telling the greater community about what wetland care is about and what we do, there are no resources for that at all,’ Ms Price said.

Creating powerful video content helps lift the profile of wetlands. Ms Price said that lifting the profile in general has been a slow process.

‘Wetlands still have the “swamp complex” where they are thought of as stinky mozzie filled things and even thought of as a very specific thing,’ Ms Price said.

‘Wetlands to us is broader than that, it is rivers, swamps, estuaries, mangroves etc. I think that type of understanding is a long way from being mainstream.

‘I have been in the industry for twelve years now and I have seen a huge change to the profile of wetlands in that time.

‘The bigger environmental NGO’s are very good at promoting what they do, in advertising and getting support. It is a struggle for us as a smaller NGO.’

North Coast TAFE teachers Annie Benzie and Rohan Langford of the Diploma Course in Screen & Media told Echonetdaily that the idea of documenting wetland management and restoration had been in the pipeline for many years.

Ms Benzie said ‘this film project was part of linking our students to the wider community and out to the work force.’

Mr Langford said that ‘this type of experience is suitable for getting work in regional areas. Working for NGOs and creating web content video is one way people can get employment locally.’

The students and teachers were not experienced in wetland care.

Ms Benzie said ‘it is part of making video content for a client. You have to research the subject.’

Mr Langford added that ‘Eli Dutton and Adam Gosling from WCA were very helpful and identified what was relevant for us to capture.’

Ms Price said the documentary was able to showcase the variety of work that WCA do.

‘This footage is so valuable to us,’ Ms Price said, ‘they say a picture tells a thousand words, so this film says a lot!

‘In terms of people getting what we do, especially in natural resource management, this (video) is undoubtedly the best way,’ Ms Price said.

‘We have many photos and words that cannot do what this video has done.’

Ms Price said although this was the official presentation of the documentary, WCA has loaded it up on their website during the year.

‘We have linked this through all our social media networking, our e-news, and also conferences and trade shows.’

The locally produced documentary highlighted three of the 20 wetland projects and received great reviews from within the industry.

Mr Langford paid special thanks to the exceptional contribution by the Diploma students: Travis Jamieson, Peace Freeborn, Terese Van Twest, Henry Gooley and James Smythe.

Ms Price said ‘that in terms of a polished product, it was fantastic! It was brilliant.’

There is a second stage of the project which involves follow on work to the areas identified in the Coastal 20 project, plus many wetlands in between.

To see the documentary online go to http://www.wetlandcare.com.au/index.php/our-work/current-projects/coastal-20-wetlands-project/

Or you can see a screening of it alongside short films produced by Cert IV and Diploma students in Screen & Media at Lismore TAFE campus, Friday November 22 beginning at 7pm.


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