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Competence Network Climate Change, Risk Management and Transformation in Forest Ecosystems

zur PUMA-Startseite

Forest Research Institut Baden-Württemberg (FVA)
Department of forest economics

Wonnhaldestr. 4
D-79100 Freiburg

Tel:  +49 761 4018 231
Fax: +49 761 4018 333

Article

Author(s): Jutta Odenthal-Kahabka
Editorial office: FVA, Germany
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Public Relations after Storm Events

Due to storms, the damaged forest and the forestry industry receive a broad media response especially at the local level. Nevertheless, this first rush of enthusiasm ("only bad news is good news") is gone fast.

The initial interest ought to be used to arouse understanding and tolerance for timber processing issues and problems coping with storm damages. At the same time it’s possible to impart important messages about the processing of storm damaged timber e.g. "no timber without silvicultural measures".

Pressevertreter im Wald
Photo: FVA Freiburg.

Consider messages carefully. Rash words e.g. "the timber market has collapsed" doesn’t assist talks with timber buyers while comments such as "finally a chance for mixed stands" or "damages are home-made" undermines the position and competence of foresters.

Continuous public relations are extremely important especially when coping with storm damages. Forest offices are recommended to report regularly (at least once a month) in official bulletins or local newspapers on work progress.

Listed below are public relation suggestions and ideas for coping with storm damages. The responsible ministries, departments of forestry at the regional administrative authorities and the centre of state forest administration for Baden-Wuerttemberg and Rheinland-Pfalz respectively co-ordinate these activities.

PR-schedule –short and long term suggestions

Press, Radio and Television

  • "Press-ride" with important policy makers e.g. responsible minister, possibly minister president, preferably from the centre of the storm damaged area. Themes: timber market, recreation, ecology, situation of private forest owners, "How to move on after the storm?", climate policy, relationship between society and forest.
  • Exclusive offers to major magazines with guided tours on site (e.g. for Stern, Spiegel but also for local magazines)
  • Features for specialised press
  • Contact with broadcasters / TV- networks for a longer report in a magazine
  • Try to get into TV-News especially public broadcasters ("Tagesschau", "heute" or local news broadcasts) as well as into breaking news bulletins

Themes for continuous press releases during the first few weeks

Central authorities and forest offices:

  • Danger to forest visitors
  • Decisions on amount and form of subsidies
  • Forest damage compensation law
  • Decisions on facilitation of timber transport
  • Timber market (processing strategy, marketing strategy)
  • Overall processing strategy; techniques and forest work (application of harvesters, wet storage, personnel from other federal states / foreign states etc.)
  • Safety aspects, training of forest owners regarding processing of storm damaged timber

Information to various associations

  • On-site meetings with non-governmental nature conservation societies and administrative nature conservation authorities, possibly together with the press
  • Coordination meetings with SGDW (Association for protection of German Forests), Forstkammer (House of Forests), labour union, BDF (Union of German Foresters), Forstverein (forestry association), ANW (work group of foresters who advocate forest management based on natural processes).
  • Talks with hunting associations

Seek media coverage following all appointments by issuing press releases or holding press briefings.

Appointments with policy makers

  • Working group on agriculture and rural areas with political party representatives from the federal/state parliament (Landtag)
  • Political committee chairpersons
  • Committees for rural areas

Further PR-measures

  • Touring exhibitions for forest offices and regional administrative authorities (Baden-Wuerttemberg) / centre of state forest administration (Rheinland-Pfalz) about storm damages
  • Internet presence

Internal information and communication

It was shown during "Lothar" that when coping with catastrophes, that there was a lot of demand for (federal) state wide information by the forest offices and forest districts.

Therefore upper authorities decided to release a monthly intra-administrative newsletter "Sturminfo intern". This newsletter provided information about state-wide processing, transportation and storage etc. It enabled employees to look beyond their own local area of interest and be involved in the recovery Official decrees from upper administrations shouldn’t be replaced by this newsletter. Rather this newsletter was for items of special interest.

Theme Examples of potential contents
Timber market
  • Contact person timber sale
  • Summary of current sale negotiations
  • Current range of prices of sale contracts according to wood species
Forest work and personnel
  • Special "Storm" wage, travel expenses, separation compensation, holiday transfer etc.
  • Personal protective equipment
  • Supporting personnel from other state forest administrations
  • Visits from occupational safety specialists
  • Contract information including price ranges
  • Number of occupational accidents
  • State of processing/ amount of processed timber (attention: don’t rank by forest offices)
Current information ( from department of forestry and centre of state forest administration)
  • More personnel at department of forestry, introduce new staff and their availability
Financial support / subsidy
  • News from subsidy negotiations
Timber storage and haulage
  • Current state of timber storage
  • Contact persons/ specialists for timber storage and their availability.
  • Current information on haulage capacity
Miscellaneous
  • Storm damages in other (federal) states
  • Short information and calculations from research institutes, e.g. situation of small private forests after storm damages
  • (Short) reports of people affected, e.g. due to relocation

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