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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Tuesday, 23 March 2010
Vale Mark Blecher, important forest campaigner in NSW history
Mood:  special
Topic: nsw govt

Sadly we hear Mark has died of leukemia after a long illness. We only knew him as a hearty and hale forest campaigner working inside the system in the 1990ies, as much as practical, as indicated by extracts in this 1996 NSW Govt newsletter referring to Mark. But not pictured unfortunately.

This writer however can be seen top right hand corner of one image in the Govt PR glossy: Sceptical, overlooking as usual with caffeine in hand.


We wrote some words earlier today as befits the important place Mark played in NSW forest politics, and as a good hearted intelligent man:

Subject: [chipstop] vale Mark Blecher loved forests Re: [chipstop] .... very next day .... Re: [chipstop] Todays SMH page 3 re Save Koalas

Some thoughts about an important forest campaigner in the modern history of NSW, feel free to repoduce:
Mark Blecher as respected local teacher and as leader and public face of South East Forest Alliance in the region, in Bega was the NGO rock upon which the Carr Govt relied for it's conservation forest policy having regional credibility for southern half of NSW from about 1994 all the way to 2000 or so. In the north Dailan Pugh/John Corkill played that same real politik role via leadership of NEFA.
In the city Jeff Angel was the SEFA authority figure for the Carr conservation forest policy, (first as junior co director to Milo Dunphy then sole director of TEC) but only because Mark Blecher was in alliance at the regional level for SEFA providing democratic credibility to small TEC, Jeff leveraging off that utilising TEC go between Fiona McCrossin (previous housemate up here) sister of more famous Julie. This suited Carr to offset the much bigger and more hard line Wilderness Society forest reform policy.
In this sense Mark played a critical role in NSW forest politics. On a personal level he was always very dignified and intelligent and indeed very diplomatic. I would hazard a guess that he was appalled as Dailan Pugh and others were subsequently at the way the high hopes of the Carr Govt tended to unravel by say 1998 -1999 when the luke warm promise to Ian Cohen, later MP, in the lead up to the 1995 election to close the Eden chipmill failed to materialise.
One can speculate that failure to privatise the multi billion energy sector in 1997 had a significant role in Carr's settings resulting in barely half the forest recommended for protection being saved, as borne out by official RACAC maps of the time since published by the writer. Carr talks often of the 300 parks he created but not the broader reality. Rather the industry achieved 20 year logging RFA resource security - even in koala habitat - and the new as distinct from existing National Parks are significantly smaller than the logging areas - all on public heritage land.
One can see a refusal to be duped again in the current Redgum compromise and controversy.
The privatisation of energy agenda 1997, again 2007, failed not least from a broad democratic view about corrupt corporations in the USA like Enron. In that sense everything is connnected.
Mark loved forests. And harmony in his local community. I can't help thinking his illness and death is a metaphor for irreconciliable differences of the public and the government over the Eden chipmill  May he rest in peace. God bless him - his part in our struggle is over.
Condolences to his family and close friends.
Yours truly, Tom McLoughlin.

Posted by editor at 1:48 PM NZT

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