Regional Forest Communications Networks – a network of networks
A series of self-sustaining networks with many hundreds of members exists to support forest communicators throughout the globe. The networks help practitioners share their experiences and best practices, build capacity, and provide support to major international processes and events like the World Forest Congress and International Day of Forests.
The first network was established in Europe almost 25 years ago, facilitated by FAO and the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). Since then, FAO has used this valuable experience to facilitate the creation of six other networks, spanning seven world regions.
The networks work autonomously but there is a Global Group on Forest Communication which coordinates certain activities and ensures a healthy cross flow of information among all.
Promoting improved communication within and outside the sector has been at the very heart of these initiatives. In recent years the networks have run some very innovative and successful communication sessions. For example, we held high profile, engaging and compelling sessions at the XIV World Forestry Congress (2015), at the Asia-Pacific Forestry Week (2016) and at the 23rd Session of the Committee on Forestry (2016). These sessions promote the application of expert and professional communications to help meet business or project objectives. They tend to focus on best practice and case studies for communication, and usually have a strong interactive element with panel-style questions and answers rather than just presentations. We try to find challenging new ways to get attention for our cause, and our messages effectively delivered.
It was clear from all our interaction with new networks that capacity building must be a high priority. In addition to annual events in the UNECE region, interactive workshops have been held in all the regions with events in Tanzania, Russia, Peru, Hanoi, Morocco and Namibia.
The networks are keen to get new members. Anyone working in the area of forest communications, regardless of their qualifications or experience, is most welcome.
Then we should add capacity building / training in Tanzania (add photos) – Peru (add photos ) etc
Europe and North America
The FAO/UNECE Forest Communicators’ Network (FCN) is the longest established network. It was set up by the FAO European Forestry Commission (EFC) and the UNECE Timber Committee more than 20 years ago. The network consists of more than 160 people from some 20 countries and 10 international organisations and institutions.
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Southern and eastern African representatives first met at a workshop in Bagamoyo, Tanzania in June, 2012 to discuss issues on forestry communication in the eastern and southern region of Africa. The main aims of this workshop were to develop and strengthen forestry communications capacity in the region and to explore the possibility of establishing a self-sustaining sub-regional network of communication practitioners. A Francophone-African Communicators Network was established in October 2013. Nine communication and forestry officers from Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Niger, Togo, Burundi, Gabon, Senegal, Madagascar, Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo signed a resolution creating the network and agreed on the concrete steps to create the tools necessary for the network’s future activities. The two networks decoded that they could overcome any language barriers and form a single network covering all Africa.
Latin America and the Caribbean
The Latin America Forest Communicators Network started in Peru in November 2011. A follow up meeting in 2012 expanded and further extended the network to Central America bringing new members from additional countries. There are now around 50 members from both private and public institutions across the region. In 2014, participants from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay met in Lima at a workshop organized by FAO and Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina, bringing together experts in forest communication from various fields – government ministries, media, universities and NGOs.
This network started in Hanoi in 2013. 26 communication and forestry officers from both private and public sector organisations throughout the Asia-Pacific region gathered to discuss and identify regional opportunities for collaboration in forest communication issues and knowledge sharing. The meeting resulted in wide-ranging agreement on the need for a communication network and a working group was formed to define the details of how the network will be formed and operated.
Forest Communicators Network in the Mediterranean and Near East region
Over 30 participants from 10 countries including Egypt, France, Iran, Jordan, Spain, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Lebanon and Turkey attended an international workshop on forest communication in Rabat, Morocco from 13 to 15 May 2014. Facilitated by FAO, the main aims of this workshop were to develop and strengthen forestry communications capacity in the region and to explore the possibility of establishing a self-sustaining sub-regional network of communication practitioners. Representatives from government agencies and NGOs from around the Mediterranean and Near East region recognized the need to better coordinate and communicate forest issues and a working group was established. The participants will give communication support for the forthcoming Mediterranean Forest Week in Barcelona in 2015.
Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia
This network came together following a very successful workshop in June 2016, in St Petersburg, Russia. Over 20 specialists engaged in forestry communications attended, including respresentativers from national governments, from regional international organisations, NGOs and other forestry institutions. Participants had different backgrounds and quite diverse communications skills.
The Global Group on Forest Communication was formed by FAO to improve communication on forest issues and facilitate capacity development among the regional networks. It aims to:
- assist coordination among regional networks
- identify shared opportunities to raise awareness on forest issues across the regions;
- help promote the importance of communication to policy makers, stakeholders and decision makers;
- provide various means of exchange of ideas, information, advice and expertise;
- provide expertise on global and regional communication issues.;
- advance the exchange of experience among regional networks; and
- promote best practices in forest communication in these networks.
Members include (from left to right):
- Kay Montgomery African Network Communication Officer and Working for Forests Environmental Programmes, Department of Environmental Affairs, South Africa
- Colin Morton, Communications strategist and international facilitator, UK
- Caroline Liou Asia/Pacific Network and Communication Manager, The Center for People and Forests, Thailand
- Kai Lintunen FAO/UNECE Network and Communication Manager, Finnish Forest Association, Finland
- Maria De Cristofaro Communications and Outreach Officer, Forestry Department, FAO of the United Nations
- Patricia Sfeir Mediterranean and Near East Network and Manager, Rural Development Programs, Seeds International, Lebanon
- Raul Perez Albrecht, Latin American Network and Communication Officer, Bolivia
- Ingwald Gschwandtl FAO/UNECE Network leader and Director Policy and Information, Forestry, Environment and Water Management, Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Austria