Expected result 3: Public awareness and transparency in forestry sector FLEGT/VPA and REDD+ processes in Ghana, DRC, Cote d’Ivoire and Cameroon are improved
Below are the activities implemented to achieve result 3.
Activity 3.1 Establish and facilitate model rural community radio education centers as communication platforms for sharing information on forest governance at the grassroots
Model rural community radio education centers provided communication platforms for sharing information on forest governance at the grassroots. In both Cameroon and Ghana, workshops were facilitated for the Community Radio Network on Forest Governance. In Ghana, five model rural community radio education centers were established for sharing forest information in Kyebi (Ofinso Forest District), Nagode, Kwakumme and Pekyi (Nkawie Forest District). In Cameroon, the Community Radio Network on Forest Governance met to discuss implementation of the strategic communication plan on Forest Governance and FLEGT VPA.
- Forest communities are now well educated about the FLEGT/VPA process and their rights and roles in forest management
- The model rural community radio education centers are sharing information and issues of forest governance are being discussed. The MoUs with local communities secure their local ownership, management and use of the radio education centres.
- In Cameroon, a collaborative strategy for operating the community radio stations has been implemented and an action plan adopted. The community radio platform is discussing forest governance and issues raised are shared via the radio stations.
Activity 3.2 Review, develop and publish country specific communication modules (forest policies, legislations, roles and rights) for national advocacy based on tested communication strategies
CSO reviews of forest-related policies and legislations have supported the Ghana Forestry Commission’s communication strategy. Information on progress with VPA implementation and development of the GhLAS has been prepared and shared with international buyers and stakeholders. Other documents prepared and shared include: information for the media on forest policies, legislations, roles and rights; FLEGT and forest governance newsletters; and a position paper on the timber procurement policy produced to support the legal working group in the domestic timber market reform process.
In Cameroon, a summary of the 1994 Forest Code, a document on the requirements of the FLEGT-VPA and forest governance, and three policy briefs were prepared and distributed during training sessions to encourage best practices in forest management. In Cote d’Ivoire, the forest code has been summarised and simplified for general education and awareness raising purposes.
Support was also given towards preparation of the document “Rights and Responsibilities of Communities in Forest Management” being produced by the “Countering deforestation through the link between FLEGT and REDD” project. Awareness posters have been shared in Ghana and Cameroon in response to awareness needs on issues raised during community forums.
- Media representatives gained a good understanding of forest governance and the FLEGT-VPA and is now discussing forest governance issues
- The general public is becoming more aware of the importance of purchasing legally verifiable timber to promote sustainable forest management.
Activity 3.3: Deliver forest governance information and national awareness campaigns
To encourage support for national advocacy actions, radio programs in Ghana were organised to discuss: the domestic timber market and FLEGT, the implications of FLEGT for Ghanaians, community rights and responsibilities, and the importance of the current legal reforms in the forestry sector. A discussion on forest issues with the Nature and Development Foundation and the National Forestry Forum Ghana was shown on Ghana Television (GTV) and United Television (UTV) here and another addressing how to reduce deforestation in Ghana, on GTV here. Durbars have also been organised on FLEGT and community participation, and media interviews to share information on the FLEGT.
In Cameroon, the media produced and shared awareness materials on the FLEGT process and forest governance, while the strategic communication plan on governance and FLEGT-VPA guided Community Radio Stations on information dissemination. The media are updated regularly so they can continue raising awareness on forest governance and FLEGT. In Cote d’Ivoire, radio programmes and community durbars have been organised to raise awareness.
In Cameroon, radio discussions included a debate at a radio station owned by a Senator who is also a forest operator but does not comply with the forest laws. The journalists, using their new awareness of the laws, exposed the illegal activities and called for punishment of those responsible. Partnership contracts signed with two stations, Community Radio Urban and Radio Yaoundé, have increased public awareness about forest governance and the fight against corruption.
- Awareness of forest governance and FLEGT has been raised, leading to more active participation of civil society in VPA negotiations in Cote d’Ivoire and the DRC and in implementation in Ghana and Cameroon.
- In Ghana, as many as 12 million people have new awareness of the importance of forests and good governance and how the forests can contribute to improved living standards
- Media houses that are sharing information on forest governance and FLEGT and hosting debates include: Sunrise FM, URN newspaper, Sky One Radio, Radio Kalak, Radio Colombe and Africa 2
- Radio discussions in Cameroon and the testimonies of editors show clearly that the capacities of the media have been built. See more on FORMA here.
- Many articles on FLEGT in Cameroon are now available, such as: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6.
- Media interest increased during Cameroon’s national week against corruption, and ten journalists were supported to produce news stories and broadcasts on the fight against corruption and towards improved forest governance. The campaign also involved the anti-corruption contact group and the communications unit of the Ministry in charge of forests.
- In Cote d’Ivoire, the communities living around forests now know the VPA is an opportunity to integrate their needs and to ask for proper benefit sharing from forest exploitation.
Activity 3.4: Develop capacity and motivate the media on packaging and delivery of forest governance/ FLEGT-VPA information
The project assessed the media’s awareness deficit on forest governance and the FLEGT VPA and designed a toolkit to address these deficits. Media in all project countries were then trained on a range of forest governance and FLEGT issues to help them raise further awareness. This motivated press briefings, media articles, and the establishment of a community radio network. Awards for media houses, reporters and editors were organised to reward best environmental and forest related reporting (e.g. Cameroon and Ghana).
- In Ghana, the media training generated enthusiasm among reporters and editors for raising awareness on forest governance issues. Radio stations have dedicated airtime, journalists have written articles, and a media network on forest governance has been formed. These actions all support greater awareness among people in Ghana generally.
- Trainees have been taking their own actions in Cameroon, where a journalist decided to investigate accusations that a senator in his village had sold villagers’ lands to HEVECAM agribusiness. The journalist was threatened when he contacted the senator for further information. He made the story public, at which point the senator immediately contacted him to provide explanations to the affected people. Other journalists visiting the Wijma area extended their stay so they could investigate the activities of logging companies in the area.
- Journalists are now more capable of providing critical analysis of FLEGT and forest governance issues rather than only reporting on events. They are discussing their roles in delivering information and have developed communication plans to guide their activities.
Activities for expected result 1 towards effectively engaging stakeholders in national FLEGT/VPA negotiation and implementation
Activities for expected result 2 towards sharing information and experiences on forest governance to strengthen FLEGT VPA negotiation and implementation
Activities for expected result 4 towards increased visibility of and demand for legal timber by timber producers, traders and consumers