Asia-Pacific Forest Communication Network meets urgent need
Policy makers, governments and international organizations increasingly recognize the urgent need for the forestry sector to improve its communication capacity and activity across countries and regions.
More than 35 communication workers, resource mobilizers, natural-resources managers and foresters from ten countries in the Asia-Pacific region met on 25 February 2016 in Clark, Pampanga, Philippines to learn about Participatory Development Communications (PDC) approaches in working with local communities.
Facilitated by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and RECOFTC: The Center for People and Forests, the fourth gathering of the Asia-Pacific Forest Communication Network (APFCN) was divided into three sessions: 1) capacity-building workshop on a PDC strategy that would enable local communities to identify their own development needs and the specific actions that could help improve their livelihoods; 2) training in how to work effectively with the media; and 3) an explanation of the purpose of APFCN.
Through role plays during the first session, participants learned how to plan, implement, monitor and evaluate a PDC strategy; and identify and work with local and international media (such as, whether to go through popular or specialist media).
To share best practices of PDC, five presenters from four countries showcased their experiences during the first session: 1) Sharing research-based information on sunflower as organic fertilizer in Ifugao, Philippine rice terraces; 2) Establishing relationships in co-creating local innovations in sustainable indigenous people’s food systems in Philippines; 3) Participatory development communications for empowering ethnic women in sustainable forest management in Xuan Nha Nature Reserve, Viet Nam; 4) Narikoso village relocation project: adapting to climate challenges in Fiji; and 5) Awareness tools to facilitate community learning process in Jember, East Java, Indonesia.
The second session was led by Maria de Cristofaro, FAO communications officer on building relations with the media. Some tips shared included how to make contact with media, to identify a story, to create and send a pitch, run a press conference, handle media requests and deal with television interviews.
An explanation of APFCN followed. The APFCN serves as a platform to share information and knowledge, a network with others who are working on forest-related communications projects in the region, exchange lessons learned, and jointly develop capacity.
‘APFCN is a voluntary group whose members are people willing to set aside their time to improve the communications network among forestry workers through communications capacity and activity accross countries and regions. Membership of this group is open to individuals or organizations’ staff’, explained Caroline Liou, communications manager of RECOFTC.
David Gritten, senior program officer, research and analysis, with RECOFTC, said, ‘In terms of communication I am the worst combination: a forester and an academic. I realised through this workshop that the communicators, and such a network as APFCN, can play such an important role in helping people like me communicate effectively. This is vital if I am to deliver on my project goals, whether aiming to support policy development, or to empower rural communities’.
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Contact Caroline Liou of RECOFTC: The Center for People and Forests: email@example.com
The author’s participation in the workshop was supported by the Agroforestry and Forestry in Sulawesi: Linking Knowledge to Action project