Accurate and reliable media reports on forest issues are an important part of improving protection and management of our often-endangered forests.
This requires an understanding by journalists of the legal, economic, social and policy aspects of forest management. Under the FLEG II (Complementary measures for Georgia and Armenia Program), regional training (master class) and media tour for Armenian and Georgian journalists took place in Armenia on September 19-23.
The overall objective of the ADA-supported master class and media tour was to enhance journalistic skills of selected individuals to provide accurate, reliable, captivating articles on environmental issues with the emphasis on forestry aspects thus improving the quality of coverage.
The event included lectures and open discussion on FLEG II results, legal and institutional issues of the forestry sector in Armenia and Georgia, assessment of forest use policy, accountability of governmental bodies, forest monitoring, sources of information on forest sector, illegal logging, main threats to the forests, and analysis of different case studies.
After the series of lectures, the journalists visited forests and forest adjacent communities located on the border of Armenia and Georgia: Gugarq, Lalvar and Jiliza forest enterprises, and Vanadzor, Shnogh and Teghout communities. The participants met with local administrations, forest enterprises, NGOs and the local inhabitants.
On the final day, the journalists received awarding certificates during the closing ceremony.
“Awareness raising is one of the pillars FLEG II Program is built on. It is crucial that reliable, accurate and captivating information is available to the larger public. It is especially important in the context of countries like Armenia and Georgia, where a lot of socio-economic burden has been placed on the forests”, says Sirarpi Haykazyan, World Bank's FLEG II activity coordinator in Armenia.
The event was also unique because it was organized in the frames of a regional project, so the participants were given a chance to not only explore their own country, but also compare and analyze the situation in the neighboring country.
“The media is the intermediary between the facts and society, and they carry the burden of conveying information to wide audiences, shaping the public opinion and attitudes. Poor skills, lack of specific knowledge of the environmental sector is affecting the overall image, state and perspective of the forestry field in Armenia and Georgia”, says Sirarpi Haykazyan.
Practicing journalists admitted that although they had been reporting in the field of environment/forestry for quite some time already, during the training they discovered a number of peculiarities and facts about the forest which they did not know, and which could lead them to providing inaccurate information.
Participants from both countries indicated that the media tour was unique not only in terms of experience and knowledge about the neighboring country, but also about their own homelands. Many participants confessed they have never had a chance to travel to a remote forest, and be able to see and assess facts on the spot.