At least 18 media practitioners will today, July 12, begin a two-day workshop on forest governance and monitoring intended to sharpen their skills and enable them join other advocacy groups to strengthen forest governance through their reportorial duties, a release has said.
It can be recalled that in 2016, the European Union Non-State Actors (EU-NSA) launched the project in Western Africa, and it is being implemented in Ghana, Liberia and Ivory Coast.
The purpose of the project is to "Strengthen the capacity of non-state actors in improving FLEGT-VPA and REDD+ processes in Western Africa." It is a follow up measure to the Volunteer Partnership Agreement (VPA) signed between Liberia and the European Union, Liberia's component of the project is being implemented by Volunteers to Support International Efforts in Developing Africa (VOSIEDA).
VPA is a legally binding trade agreement between the EU and timber-exporting countries outside the EU, which aims to ensure that all timbers and timber products destined for the EU market from a partner country comply with the laws of that country.
Basically, the release said the EU-NSA Project aims at enhancing the capacity of Western African non-state actors (NSAs) to monitor, advocate and engage state actors (SAs) in FLEGT-VPA and REDD+ processes.
This knowledge is envisaged to help NSAs to report on illegal logging and noncompliance to applicable forest laws and regulations by logging companies, all geared towards ensuring that communities benefit from forest resources. During the first and second years of its implementation, the project drivers realized that the media plays pivotal role in meeting the outcomes of the project.
One of such media engagements is the radio advocacy program (Forest Hour) currently being run by OK FM (a local radio station) under the sponsorship of the EU-NSA Project.
Since the launch of the radio program in April of this year, the project has recorded more than 11 critical forest issues flagged by both the guests and callers from various forest communities across the country and media institutions that have developed courage in reporting on forest issues.
In so far as the project is concerned, the radio program (media) is the first timely and robust whistle blower platform for information dissemination from forest communities. This has exposed the need to include the media in our capacity building program under the theme, "Strengthening Media Advocacy in Independent Forest Monitoring."
The training is expected to bring together over 18 electronic and print media practicing journalists from Monrovia and project affect counties. The training which runs from July 12-13, focuses on the role of the media in independent forest monitoring.
Andrew Y.Y. Zeleman of the National Union of Community Forestry Development Committee (NUCFDC), and Roland Harris of the Civil Society Independent Forest Monitors (CS-IFM) will both serve as facilitators for the training.
The selected media practitioners will receive training in definition of key forest terminologies, hierarchy of laws supporting community benefits from Liberia forest natural resources, division of Liberia forest sector and category of community benefits from forest resources, and benefit sharing, dispute resolution/noncompliance mechanisms.
Other areas to receive training in are the civil society and Liberia Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) with European Union and Civil Society Independent Forest Monitors' experience and monitoring protocols among others.'
It is expected that after the training, the media will join other advocacy groups to strengthen forest governance through their topnotch reportage. The training is also expected to arm the media on how to assess and use factual and reliable information from the forests.
At the end of the training, participants will be organized into a media advocacy group under the project to support the overarching goal of the project by reporting more on trending forest issues in the country.