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Useful links :
A Year After the Tsunami: Have We Learned the Lessons?
Nalaka Gunawardene’s article in Islam Online Science and Technology Section

Related TVEAP news:

March 2008: Armed by Nature screened in the land of Samurai
Jan 2008: Armed by Nature selected for Earth Vision Film Festival in Tokyo
July 2007: Wanted: Coastal stories for new Asian TV series
April 2007: Regeneration: A new chance for coral reefs?
Jan 2007: The Greenbelt Reports launched in Europe
Dec 2006: Armed by Nature: New documentary looks at the Tsunami’s environmental lessons
Dec 2006: TVE Asia Pacific releases The Greenbelt Reports
Oct 2006: Green Coast supports The Greenbelt Reports
Oct 2006: Greenbelt Reports previewed at Green Accord Forum in Rome
Home > News 20 December 2009
The Greenbelt Reports featured in new book on environmental
journalism in South Asia

The Green Pen book coverThe process of producing and distributing TVE Asia Pacific’s educational TV series, The Greenbelt Reports, is showcased in a new book on environmental journalism in South Asia, due for release in January 2010.

The book, titled The Green Pen: Environmental Journalism in India and South Asia, is edited by two senior Indian journalists, Keya Acharya and Frederick Noronha. It is published by Sage, a globally operating company that specialises in bringing out academic and professional books.

Arranged in 10 sections, the book brings together contributions from three dozen journalists, broadcasters and film makers in South Asia. It opens with a foreword by Darryl D’Monte, one time editor of The Times of India and Chair,
Forum of Environmental Journalists of India (FEJI).

The chapter ‘Dispatches from the Frontline: Making of The Greenbelt Reports’ is co-authored by Nalaka Gunawardene, TVEAP Director/CEO, and Manori Wijesekera, Regional Programme Manager. They were script writer and series producer respectively of this Asian series released in December 2006.

In The Greenbelt Reports, TVEAP’s journalists and producers revisited coastal locations hardest hit by the Indian Ocean Tsunami of December 2004, to see if the disaster’s environmental lessons were being heeded.

Comprising 12 self-contained short films, each 5 minutes in duration, and one half hour documentary, the series looks at challenges in conserving Asia’s coastal greenbelts – coral reefs, mangroves and sand dunes – that offer protection from disasters and many economic benefits to coastal communities.

Additionally, the greenbelts can also buffer coastal areas from anticipated climate change impact.

How to order The Greenbelt Reports

The Greenbelt Reports entire series (12 x 5 mins, totaling 60 mins of viewing) is available as a single compilation on VHS Video and DVD. Copies can be ordered online from TVE Asia Pacific’s e-shop.

For obtaining broadcast masters, please contact TVE Asia Pacific’s Distribution Division:

TVE Asia Pacific launched The Greenbelt Reports in mid 2005. It is a multi-media, Asian educational project to journalistically investigate and report on efforts to balance conservation needs of coastal greenbelts with socio-economic needs of coastal communities.

The 12 stories in the first series came India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Thailand. Using compelling images, interview clips and brief narration, each film tells the story of a community, activist group or researchers engaged in saving, restoring or regenerating a coastal greenbelt.

View titles and synopses of The Greenbelt Report – first series

In the book chapter, the series creators recall how the idea was conceived, information was researched and location filming was carried out. They also document the outreach and distribution of the films which continues to date, three years after their release. 

An accompanying text box is written by Pamudi Withanaarachchi, who filmed some of the stories in Sri Lanka and Indonesia as a then member of the TVEAP production team.

The chapter ends with a summary of TVEAP’s learnings from this regional media and educational exercise. (See box below)

The Greenbelt Reports

“These stories were not about the Asian Tsunami itself, but they reflected a key lesson driven home by that mega-disaster,” says Nalaka Gunawardene. “In this series, we tried to amplify that message: the need to save or restore greenbelts across coastal Asia.”

The Greenbelt Reports was researched and produced in consultation with a large number of local, national and regional conservation organizations and research institutes. Among them: IUCN Asia, UNEP Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Mangrove Action Project, and Wetlands International.

The Greenbelt Reports received the financial or technical advisory support from several conservation organisations, development agencies and media companies. These include the Japan Fund for Global Environment and the Green Coast Project, administered by IUCN Sri Lanka and financed by Oxfam Novib. The Nation Broadcasting Corporation of Thailand was a co-producing partner for the three stories filmed in Thailand.

Making The Greenbelt Reports: Our learning
Here, in summary, are the main lessons we learned from producing and distributing The Greenbelt Reports, first series
Often, the inspiration or catalyst for a new environmental film or series can come from a print or online news report originating in some far corner of the planet.  
Environmental journalism on video involves the same rigorous approach as in print or online, but we have to also think visually – and let pictures tell most of the story.  
It is far more compelling to tell a story using eye witness accounts or through the words of people who live in our story's daily reality.  
Experts and activists are useful sources of information and some also provide good interviews -- but we should not rely exclusively on them.  
Public interest environmental film-making is meant for the non-technical public, which requires our stories to be based on science, but not immersed in it.  
Similarly, while looking at ecological dimensions of a story, we also need to probe the socio-economic, political and cultural aspects.  
A film is most effective when it tells an engaging story. Communicating information or messages is a secondary objective, and should not get in the way of story telling.  
Any complex story can be broken down into key ideas and told in simple, everyday language. Those who use jargon or abstract concepts are too lazy to attempt this.  
It is fine to ask more questions than we end up answering in a film. Our viewers will, hopefully, go in search of answers that we don't readily provide.  
Making a good film is only half a job done. Promoting and distributing it far and wide is just as important. Never underestimate the time and effort needed for that!  
If we make a public interest film using public/donor funds, it is imperative that we don't impose a crushing copyrights regime on it. Let our film roam free. Be flattered by unauthorised copying.

Coral bleaching a major concern

Photographs TVEAP Image Archive



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