LIBERIA: Gov’t Appreciates Media Forest Advocacy …Encourages Sustained Engagement to Highlight Forestry Issues  

Journalist Moses R. Quollin on an IFM investigation

The Government of Liberia through the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) has heap praises on the producers of the “Forest Hour” radio program that is usually aired on OK 99.5 FM in Liberia.

Forest Hour is a one hour live interactive talk-show aired every Thursday from 4 to 5:00 pm in Monrovia, relayed in Lofa, and Sinoe counties, and some other rural community radio stations across the country.

The live radio & social media (facebook online TV) phone-in program is usually coordinated by Journalist Moses R. Quollin and team at the Liberia Forest Media Watch (LFMW) – a civil society media support advocacy institution currently funded by a 15-month grant from an EU project, and eight months from Tropenbos International, the Netherlands – with funds from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Referencing the importance of the program and its impact in Liberia, FDA REDD+ Coordinator under the Liberia Forest Sector Project (LFSP) Saah A. David said “Forest Hour” has over time served as a pedestal for many Liberians to have a full understanding as to how the forest of Liberia should be managed.

At every edition of the program, stakeholders from the forestry sector of the country are usually invited to weigh in on issues related to the forest in Liberia and make recommendations on how policies and the governance of the sector can be improved.

David believes that the program has now become an inspiration for many Liberians residing in the forested region of the country, stressing that every time he listened, most of those who called in, during the phone in session of the program, voiced out their interest in the subject matter and even yearn to have the program air daily.

“Let me say this, there is a program that I normally listened to every Thursday on Okfm Liberia, it is called Forest Hour. For me, this program is very unique. It touches on everything that is happening in the country’s forest sector. I will advised that we will all listened to this program. It is educative and informative especially on forest sector issues. I must appreciate the producers of the program” Mr. David accentuated.

“The good thing about that talk-show is communities have the opportunity to call in [participate directly] – and there are things that we normally pickup from that show – that when we are sitting in our offices to discuss on policy issues that come in – is in reference to community benefits – discussions from the program.”

He then encourage among other things, sustain media engagement, research and investigative attitude, transparent and unbiased reporting, media keen willingness and ability to learn new paradigm, concepts, variables on climate change, sustainable agriculture, and issues of REDD+ – Reducing Emission from Deforestation and forest Degradation – conservation and enhancement of forest carbon stocks, etc.

Mr. David who spoke at a two-day conference for Liberian journalists for the establishment of a “Community of Practice – COP” on forest, environment and climate change reporting – where made specific emphasis on the role of “Independent Media in strengthening effective forest governance, transparency, accountability, and sustainable forest management for the benefit of all” Liberians.

With support from the Multi-stakeholder Forest Governance Accountability Project (MFGAP), the media conference brought together independent journalists facilitated by the Liberia Media Center (LMC), and was also attended by some media development organizations including Liberia Forest Media Watch – LFMW.

As part of its works, LFMW increases awareness on forest related matters, helps with visibility of CSOs interventions, and independently monitor and report (through short term media investigations) on developments within the Liberian forestry sector.

Journalists were urged by FDA’s officials to promote accurate, credible, and balance reportage to assist policymakers with informed decision, and ‘avoid jeopardizing the progress made by government and partners.’

In regards, FDA’s Managing Director C Mike Doyan wants the media to take more interest in stories portray positive image for the government – considering what he believe to be gains made by FDA despite many challenges faced by the entity as a semi-autonomous agency.

Doyan says plans are underway by the FDA to begin a regularly engagement with the media through monthly briefings, trainings for journalists covering the forestry sector, and as well as others means possible to strengthen information sharing, and coordination with the “Forest Hour” radio program, etc.

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