Conservation Comment is a weekly column usually published on Mondays.
Contributors are placed on a roster to compose a short article of around 550-600 words on any conservation or environmental topic of their choice.
This includes not only the conservation of nature and natural resources, at any scale, but also that of cultural heritage and historical features, and issues of sustainable use.
Contributors can focus on the environmental, social, economic, or political dimensions of these issues, or even present contrary views on them.
• Whanganui beaches cleaned up for conservation
• Whanganui doctor making waves for seabed conservation
• Conservation Week under way in Whanganui 'backyards'
• Conservation Comment: Get them young and make it fun
The aim of the column is to increase people's awareness and understanding of such issues, as well as to stimulate informed debate on the more contentious ones. Although opinion is valued, it is useful to support one's arguments with evidence, where available.
If you have something to say about conservation and like writing for newspapers, consider putting together a Word document and attach it in an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once accepted as a Conservation Comment scribe, your name will be entered into the next roster, and you will be given brief instructions about where else to send your article when it's your turn.
Scribes can suggest a heading for the article but there is no guarantee that it will be used. Alternatively, to ensure that the subeditor is aware of the focus of the article, headline the article with a single sentence stating the key point.
Bid to mine South Taranaki seabed back in court
A short bio (one or two sentences) about yourself and what you do is also published. If you want, you can also include a passport-sized, recent mugshot (300 dpi).
The Chronicle usually publishes a relevant picture alongside the article. Contributors can either propose the kind of picture they think will best complement the article, or attach one for the editor to consider using.
This must be sharp, no less than 300 dpi, and no smaller than 1200 x 800 pixels (10.2 x 6.8 cm). You must own the copyright to the picture or have the copyright owner's permission to use it. In either case the photographer's name can be published.
Currently, Conservation Comment has 12 regular scribes. This means we are asked to compose an article once every three months and meet our deadline which is the Thursday before publication.
Several occasional contributors are also part of the team.
"I think doing Conservation Comment gives us the opportunity to keep issues we care about in front of the public," says one of the regulars, Keith Beautrais.
"I would encourage anyone thinking about it to give it a go. You do get feedback from people who read the Chronicle."
All Conservation Comment scribes are reliable and write well. I appreciate the time they take and the effort they put into their articles.
Feedback is useful, so if readers wish to give it, they may email me.
Letters to the editor are a useful way of keeping the conversation going.
+ Margi Keys has been the co-ordinator of Conservation Comment since 2017. She is a member of Tongariro Natural History Society (Project Tongariro), Sustainable Whanganui, Forest & Bird and the Green Party.