Liberian forest communities want a pro-forest media group, Liberia Forest Media Watch (LFMW) and its international partners, to decentralize the Forest Hour radio program that is broadcast weekly on a local radio station.
The Facilitator of the National Union of Community Forest Management Organizations (CFMB), Bonathan Walaka made the advocacy during a day of forest media actors organized by LFMW on Tuesday, July 20, 2021, with the support of the European Union (EU). Walaka stressed the need for communities to have the media on their side, noting that the media through LFMW have shown strength in exposing illegalities in the forestry sector.
“So to educate our people, we need the media on our side. We want Forest Hour to be decentralized in order to provide more education to our people so that they can know their fundamental rights. Thanks to this, the community will be able to share their concerns through the media, ”Walaka added.
The Forest Hour radio show premiered in April 2019 with technical support from a project sponsored by the European Union (“Capacity building of non-state actors (NSAs) to improve the FLEGT-VPA and REDD + processes in West Africa ”). Since its inception, the fair has highlighted over 30 critical forestry issues ranging from non-compliance to illegal logging and corruption by officials of community forestry organizations.https://newspublictrust.com/scandal-in-gba-community-forest-nimba-county. The show also put forest communities on the agenda for the monthly Forestry Development Authority (FDA) meeting. https://www.tropenbos.org/news/radio+programme+puts+forest+communities+on+liberia%E2%80%99s+national+agenda+
In separate but linked remarks to selected journalists from print and electronic media, the NUCFMB facilitator revealed that there are currently 47 Forest Management Agreements (CFMAs) signed. He pointed out that of the 47; only about 15 percent of logging concessions have little or no problems. This means that the remaining 85 percent of the forests subject to a concession agreement are marred by serious controversy due to disagreements between the community and concessionaires on the one hand and community to community on the other. . https://gnnliberia.com/2021/06/12/chaos-erupts-at-mou-signing-ceremony-in-konobo-community-forest
Walaka told media officials that the data showed that communities have very little or no knowledge of these community forest management agreements (CFMAs), stressing that this is one of the root causes of most. problems in the sector. “There are issues of non-compliance in the forestry sector. Before signing an agreement, the community was supposed or had to be aware of the terms and conditions and their fees in that agreement, but that is not the case ”.
The NUCFB official took the opportunity to describe the interference of local political leaders in community forestry issues as troubling and a major distraction from ongoing reform initiatives in the forestry sector. “As I speak to you, armed men are still in the forest of Gbi and Doru while the cutting of blocks is in progress.”
The objective of the one-day media forum is to improve relations with the media in the field of forest governance, as well as to inform the media about the activities of LFMW within the framework of the Great direct support of the Union. European Union with the aim of “Strengthening the capacities of civil society for the implementation of the VPA FLEGT process”.
LFMW team leader Paul Kanneh said engaging with the Liberian media is the best way forward to uncover most of the “serious problems” in the forestry sector. Kanneh, a former Liberian public relations expert and journalist who has worked with the Heritage Newspaper and a host of other media outlets, said the formation of a pro-forest media group aims to increase access to information in the forestry sector for the greater good. of the society.
“Our goal is to support the forestry sector. Our objective is essentially to increase access to information in the forestry sector and therefore we have decided to engage independent media, ”said Paul.
“With my few years working as a public relations manager and freelance journalist, I have realized that the media is great; the power of the media cannot be overstated. The media have revolutionized reporting in the forestry sector and that is why we have been recognized. Again, we want increased access to information in the forestry sector. It is not a question of taking the glory but of partnership ”, added the person in charge of the LFMW.
LFMW is a conglomerate of like-minded journalists, freelance and investigative journalists covering the natural resources sector with a focus on forestry.
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