In the wake of helping to protect Liberian forests, about 16 Local Journalists from rural community radio stations in five counties in Liberia have received training in independent forest monitoring and established a network on forest reporting called “Community Forest Reporting Network of Liberia”.
The network was established on Saturday, May 14, 2022, National Unification Day following a two-day Independent Forest Monitoring Training held at the Teepro Lodge conference hall in Buchanan City, Grand Bassa County. The training started on Friday, May 13 and ended on May 14, 2022. It focused on general IFM concepts, protocol, monitoring guide, high tech monitoring technology ‘Forest Link real-time monitoring (RTM), institutional framework, etc.
For effective coordination and to begin sharing reports from various counties on the forest sector, the local journalists created a WhatsApp platform.
The Journalists, who were trained on how to report on the forest sector in the country, came from Nimba, Rivercess, Grand Cape Mount, Lofa, and Grand Bassa counties.
The training was conducted by the Civil Society Independent Forest Monitoring (CS-IFM) which has been providing training around the IFM and producing IFM reports since 2012.
Speaking at the two-day capacity building training, the Technical Person at the Civil Society Independent Forest Monitors (CS-IFM), Mr. Abraham Billy said the training was triggered by the observed limitation in knowledge of Journalists in forest reporting.
“The aim of the training was to enhance the capacity of local journalists on the forest monitoring and draw their attention to independent forest monitoring and reporting”, Mr. Billy said.
Furthermore, he mentioned that the training was intended to ensure that local journalists are aware and interested in awareness-raising and reporting forest-related stories in their respective counties.
The IFM Technical Person stated that the Knowledge acquired by the Local Journalists will increase their understanding of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) which is a binding agreement on the full implementation of the laws that govern the forest sector.
According to him, the Journalists also acquired additional Knowledge on forest link technology which is a tool for evidence-based reporting. He anticipates that the local Journalists who have received training in IFM will begin to work more closely together as a network to share knowledge gained to unearth sensitive stories related to the forest sector and its impact on affected forest communities.
Mr. Billy, who is also providing Programmatic Support to the CS-IFM, stated that the training was supported by the Multi-stakeholders Forestry Governance and Accountability Project (MFGAP).
Some of the thematic areas that Journalists were trained from include: independent forest monitoring and reporting, community guide for independent forest reporting, using modern technology among others.
Amongst other things, Mr. Billy stressed the importance of journalists’ involvement in the forestry sector, adding that the journalists will help in propagating knowledgeable information in forest governance.
Meanwhile, some of the participants who spoke at the close of the training were Edward Kollie, Alexander Musa, Reneer G. Duo, Mark Rogers and Peter Toby.
They applauded CSIFM for the workshop and promised to help the community, Government of Liberia and the Private Sector/Logging Companies on forest reporting while considering the dos and don’ts of logging activities in the five respective counties that took part in the two days activities.