Biodiversity communication training comes to Jamaican media
Petre Williams-Raynor, Contributing Editor
SOME 20 civil society organisations and media practitioners will get the chance to enhance their communication and reporting on biodiversity issues in Jamaica, as elsewhere in the region, over the next several weeks.
This is being made possible through a communication training workshop hosted by Panos Caribbean, under its project dubbed 'Strengthening the Engagement of Caribbean Civil Society in Biodiversity Conser-vation Through Local and Regional Networking and Effective Sharing of Learning and Best Practices'.
The workshop, to be held at the Hotel Four Seasons, Kingston, is to run over two days. It will give participants the opportunity to not only gain insight into the work of their colleagues operating inside key biodiversity areas (KBAs), such as the Cockpit Country, but also to share experiences as well as network and collaborate on future conservation initiatives.
Workshop activities, including presentations and interactive group sessions around subjects such as 'the use of social media in biodiversity conservation', are in line with the project's overall objectives.
The communication workshop comes amid hot debate over one of Jamaica's natural resources - the Goat Islands, which is located inside the Portland Bight Protected Area.
As environmentalists and Government face off over the proposed development of a trans-shipment port in the area, one of the concerns has been whether Government understands the value of the Goat Islands and the protected area in which it is sited, as well as the lack of communication and/or consultation concerning the details of the proposed development.
The situation is one that makes the workshop timely, according to Panos regional coordinator (Haiti and Jamaica) Indi Mclymont-Lafayette.
"I think even more now than ever, with the whole issue of Goat Islands under debate, the need is urgent for non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and Jamaica, in general, to really understand the importance of conservation," she told The Gleaner.
"It is not about just 'two little lizards', it is the whole issue of what a critical role conservation plays [in our development]. I think a key part of that is for NGOs working in the field to be able to highlight the importance of their work while ensuring that media houses and journalists are able to see the value and communicate that value in a balanced and objective way," Mclymont-Lafayette added.
Meanwhile, bankrolled by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund to the tune of more than US$100,000, the project - which is also being implemented in Haiti and the Dominican Republic - is intended to:
Strengthen the capacity of CSO stakeholders, including the media, and government agencies in the three islands targeted.
Enable local and regional information networking on species, key biodiversity areas, biodiversity, critical ecosystems and approaches to conservation in the conservation corridors in the three named islands.
It is geared, too, at building methodologies for effective sharing of learning and best practices among conservation stakeholders.
To realise those goals, Panos has, to date, implemented a number of activities, including stakeholder meetings inside KBAs in the three islands targeted by the project.
The communication organisation has also collected baseline data to identify gaps between the media and civil-society organisations that the project can bridge. There is, too, ongoing work on an online database that is to be made available to stakeholders once it is completed.
In addition, Panos has hosted three webinar sessions, focused on understanding and utilising the media. A fourth webinar is planned for next month.
The Haiti and Dominican Republic workshops are, in the interim, set for February 20 and 21 and March 14 and 15, respectively.