Return to the Forest Where We Live

Baton Rouge, LA (August 14, 2008)- A new high-definition Louisiana Public Broadcasting (LPB) documentary, “Return to the Forest Where We Live,” examines how advances in technology and changes in priorities are prompting communities throughout America to reconsider how vital trees really are to the socio-economic well-being of our cities. Drawing upon examples from New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, Washington DC, Baltimore, Los Angeles, and Charlotte, this program challenges viewers to re-evaluate the critical importance of investing in healthy urban ecosystems. Academy Award and Golden Globe nominee Nia Vardalos of My Big Fat Greek Wedding is the narrator for this new public television documentary.

All ACT members will receive a complimentary copy of the documentary to use as another tool for spreading the word in your communities. The narrative aligns well with the science we already know, since the Alliance for Community Trees, ACT members, and our partners contributed to and participated on this project.
Return to the Forest Where We Live includes a look at the devastation of the urban forests in New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast caused by Hurricane Katrina. Prior to the storm, New Orleans was one of the most forested cities in the country. More than 70% of the trees in the Crescent City were damaged by the storm and the flooding that followed and one-fifth of the half million trees planted in the city’s public parks and other public spaces were destroyed.
“We were a beautiful city. In fact, there is one particular street, Paris Avenue, that was loaded with 50-year-old magnolias. And when you ride down Paris Avenue today, it’s just barren. All the magnolias died as a result of the flood water.” Ann MacDonald, the director of the New Orleans Department of Parks and Parkways said.
“Just imagine what it would be like to live in a city without trees…if you lived in a forested city and all of a sudden all of the trees were gone, what a difference in that, just a sense of place,” Ed Nowak, a project leader with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forestry Service said.
Other featured cities include Los Angeles, Baltimore, Washington, D.C. and Charlotte, North Carolina.
“What’s happened in Charlotte is like the Joni Mitchell song, we killed paradise and put up a parking lot,” said Attorney Rick Roti, the Chair of the Charlotte Public Tree Fund. “That may sound humorous, that’s in actuality what has happened. It’s not only unique to Charlotte; it is happening all over our region, it is happening all over the country.”
National Programming Schedule
LPB will initially broadcast the program statewide on September 23. Several additional dates will follow. A copy of the program has been sent to PBS for consideration in the national programming schedule. We will update you on the status of national distribution as soon as we receive word. At the time of notification of acceptance, we will notify you and ask that each of you contact your local PBS station and encourage the programming director to place “Return to the Forest Where We Live” in their primetime schedule.
The documentary was previewed to a group at LSU Hilltop Arboretum’s opening reception for Louisiana’s Summit for Smart Growth, and the entire program premieres at the Shaw Center for the Arts as part of the summit on Friday afternoon, August 15.
This project was supported by the U.S. Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry Program on the recommendation of the National Urban and Community Forestry Advisory Council and by the Foundation for Excellence in Louisiana Public Broadcasting.
Producer/Director: Liz Barnes
Writer: C.E. Richard
Editor: Rex Fortenberry
Photographers: Keith Crews and Rex Fortenberry
Senior Producer/Project Director: Tika Laudun
Additional copies of Return to the Forest Where We Live may be ordered by contacting Louisiana Public Broadcasting.