Shandwick Takes Aim at a Goldman Prizewinner

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This article was first published as "Shandwick Takes Aim at a Goldman Prizewinner", PR Watch, volume 7, number 1, First Quarter 2000. The original article was authored by Nicky Hager and Bob Burton and is used here with permission. As with all SourceWatch articles, feel free to edit and revise.

In 1991 Cath Wallace, a senior lecturer in public policy at Victoria University in Wellington, was acclaimed as one of the world's leading advocates for the environment when she received a prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize in recognition of her role in leading the campaign for Antarctica to be declared a World Park.

In December 1997, Wallace attended a conservation conference in Taupo organised by Auckland University's School of Environmental and Marine Sciences. She arrived to find Timberlands' logo featured prominently and a large display promoting its beech forest logging plans--quid pro quo for a $4,000 contribution that the company had given to conference organizers. Offended to see the company using a conservation conference to "greenwash" itself, Wallace light-heartedly added a note under the logo: "logs old growth forests."

Timberlands, it turned out, did not have much of a sense of humour. Shortly after the conference, it asked Shandwick to investigate what could be done to get back at her. The PR firm drafted a letter of complaint for Timberlands general manager Kit Richards to send to the vice-chancellor of Wallace's university, Professor Les Holborow. The letter attacked Wallace as lacking objectivity, promoting an extreme environmental viewpoint and doing "little to enhance the reputation of the university." Richards complained about Wallace's addition to the logo, adding, "I would ask you to accept that our concern stems from our extensive commitment to education."

In her reply to the vice-chancellor, Wallace pointed out her long-standing opposition to Timberlands' logging of old growth forests. "The incident of which (Richards -ed) writes is simply a convenient opportunity to put pressure on me," she stated. "What we have here is an issue that has been under debate for a long time and Timberlands is looking for ways to put pressure on those who disagree with it." The university replied to Timberlands, and that was the last Wallace heard of the matter.

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