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Forest Network in Uganda

Facts:

· Total Forest area is 3.55 million ha of forest land of which 2.27m ha (64%) is outside the protected area and 1.27mha. (41%) is protected area.

· 1.2m ha (64%) is under National Forestry Authority (NFA) and the rest in (Uganda Wild Life Authority (UWA) for protected area.

· Forestry contributes 2% of GDP (Growth Domestic Product) but by adding informal it is 6% of GDP (Uganda Forestry Accounts, NEMA 2011).

· NFA is a semi-autonomous organization created by the act of government, which started in 2004 mandated to manage all CFRs in Uganda.

· Communication in the forest sector in Uganda therefore has some crucial functions and different forms of communication serve these functions.

· Communication tools in forest management (NFA) include; Pamphlets, newspapers, internet websites, scientific publications, formal meetings, Radio and TV shows. For communication to be successful it should be two way not unidirectional and there emphasis on feed back.

Contact:

  • Gaster Kiyingi Kawuubye - Tree Talk, Kampala, Uganda

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  • Julius Ariho - National Forestry Authority (NFA), Uganda

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Presentation to the Bagamoya Convention 2012

Communication Practices, Challenges, Successes and Solutions In Sustainable Forest Management in Uganda With Special Focus on National Forestry Authority (NFA)

Julius Ariho

Introduction

Communication Practices in Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) in Uganda

Communication practices refer to systematic procedures in environmental, business, social-cultural and educational settings by people, living organisms using appropriate tools to express their views, dissatisfaction, grievances, caution, way forward, so that parties concerned can solve, put into practice issues at hand. Communication is done through reading, writing, speaking, listening, visual means, and the media.

Communication tools in forest management (NFA) include; Pamphlets, newspapers, internet websites, scientific publications, formal meetings, Radio and TV shows. For communication to be successful it should be two way not unidirectional and emphasis on feed back.

Sustainable forest management is defined as: ‘The maintenance of the ecological integrity of the forest ecosystem while providing for social and economic values such as ecosystem services, economic, social and cultural opportunities for the benefit of present and future generations’’ ( Alberta; Forest Conservation Strategy 1997).

 

In Uganda players in the forestry sector include:

Government, Agencies (NFA, NEMA), Civil society –NGOs, and CBOs e.g. IUCN, WWF, Clients (community), Development partners i.e. WB, GEF, FOA, USAID, and UNDP, NORAD etc. Regional and international bodies /IGAD.

Uganda Forest Resource Profile

· Total Forest area is 3.55 million ha of forest land of which 2.27m ha (64%) is outside the protected area and 1.27mha. (41%) is protected area.

· 1.2m ha (64%) is under National Forestry Authority (NFA) and the rest in (Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) for protected area.

· Forestry contributes 2% of GDP (Growth Domestic Product) but by adding informal it is 6% of GDP (Uganda Forestry Accounts, NEMA 2011).

· NFA is a semi-autonomous organization created by the act of government, which started in 2004 mandated to manage all CFRs in Uganda.

What kind of information is needed by partners?

Government:

The government is interested in programmes that improve people’s livelihood (poverty alleviation), employment creation and contribution of the environment to the economic growth. Through the Ministry, the achievements as planned include:

  • Data generation for planning purposes

· Environmental services: Contribution to climate change through carbon reduction from atmosphere.

  • Agencies (NEMA, NFA)

· Technical information and best skills for implementing activities

· International engagement in REDD+ and Carbon projects

· Memorandum of understanding for partnerships with corporate bodies such as NBS (Nile broadcasting services) TV MTN, URA & Coca Cola.

· Uganda is a member of international conventions-climate change summits

· Natural resource Committee in parliament formulates laws, reviews & approves policies as well as performance.

· Presence of GIS systems for digital and spatial information.

· Biodiversity inventory reports of 1996 produced every five years

· Biomass reports of 1990, 2005, produced after every five years

· State of environment report produced by National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) produced every 2years

· Environmental Sensitivity Atlas for the Albertine Graben (Second Edition 2010)

  • Uganda Bureau of Standards (UBOS)

Development partners:

Basis for funding and make accountabilities to their governments of origin, worldwide publicity. Conformity to intentional obligations

Civil Society Organization (CSO):

Good forest governance and follow up trends in resource use and its sustainability.

Private sector :

Interested in acquiring technical advice for resource development and management, improved trees species and focus on markets for both timber and other forestry related products.

Communities

· Forest based enterprises will employ people and earn incomes and support their livelihood

  • Successes in SFM

Forestry Act: The National Forestry and Tree Planting Act 2003, supported by the policy

Forestry Policy: The Uganda forestry policy 2001, contains policy statements which are used as a guide in management of forest estate.

Forest Management Plans for all Central Forest Reserves (CFRs) were made for reference in management of forest estate.

NFA developed technical guidelines for various forestry operations which are extensively used during implementation of field activities.

Internet; NFA outlook, NFA Website

NFA Caller group for internal operations

NFA produces quarterly mid-year and Annual performance reports

Uganda Timber Growers Association (UTGA) is stop centre for information for Private Tree

Farmers (PTFs) in Uganda

Challenges to communication practices in SFM

The recipient clientele/institution may not adequately get intended information on record time due to:

· High cost of dissemination of information designated

· Inadequate skills in communication across various stake holders

· Uganda has no National language so it becomes hard to communicate to over 56 tribes

· Research findings by institutions such as NFFORI (National Forestry Resources Research Institute) may not be timely communicated to generate information for management decisions

Solutions/Recommendations:

· Adequate funding to generate data and disseminate information

· Need for relevant skills for key stakeholders to generate data and information

· Uganda has a liberalized communication sector, Radio and TV which have free air time on environmental resource issues; responsible institutions should utilize this opportunity.

· There is need for integrated information management system for various stakeholders.

Communication as a Tool for Responsible Forest Management in Uganda

Gaster Kiyingi, National Program Manager, Tree Talk.

Many writers define communication as the transmission of information, ideas, attitudes, or emotion from one person or group to another. As such, communication is now considered as a strategic tool for sharing information, creating knowledge and encouraging dialogue to increase opportunities to do the right thing. The forest sector in Uganda subscribes to this thinking.

Because of the varied of nature of interests and mandates among forest sector actors in Uganda, it is increasingly becoming difficult to co-ordinate forestry policy objectives and strategic plans in a coherent manner. An active exchange of information and communication between all stakeholders is essential, so that the forest-related issues in Uganda can be addressed in an adaptive manner – learning from the achievements and making improvements where shortcomings or gaps exist.

Communication in the forest sector in Uganda therefore has some crucial functions and different forms of communication serve these functions. The forms are:

  • Public relations as a form of communication serving the functions of creating the profile and image for the sector, and scanning and informing the external and internal constituencies/publics of the sector. For example the Public Relations Office of the National Forestry Authority and the Information Office of the Forest Sector Support Department concentrate on communicating and building and maintaining relations with environment and natural resources sister institutions and external publics such as the media, citizens, associations of timber dealers, community forest management groups, large scale and small scale tree growers among others.
  • Lobbying is a form of communication serving the function of providing interaction between sector actors on one hand and central government, local governments (including parliament and district councils) as decision-makers on the other hand. The Uganda Forest Working Group and the Forest Governance Learning Group are examples of the lobby groups in Uganda that participate in influencing political decision-making. The thematic areas for lobbying are determined by the objective of influencing (encroachment, land grabbing, concession administration and management, emerging issues such as Reduction of Emission from Deforestation and forest Degradation, benefit sharing, access, rights, transparency among others). Often times this involves advocacy, mobilizing grass-root level stakeholders and shaping citizen opinion on topical issues that form part of the public agenda that relate to forestry.

Media relations that serve the function of selecting issues that form the public agenda. Forest sector actors in Uganda have tried to penetrate the media through media associations such as the Uganda Environment Journalist Association that brings together all environment reporters. Efforts have also been made to work with media houses in a bid to influence editorial policies to enlist forestry on the public agenda (orientation for editors, collaboration and cooperation with environment reporters to simplify the complexity and jargon in forestry as a scientific discipline.

The challenges however are that:

· There are various institutions with mandate on forestry; not all of them have established public relations offices to consolidate relations with both internal and external publics. Often times these have relayed conflicting information to the public and this has ruined the image of the sector.

· Lobbying and advocacy – the political environment leaves little space for civil society and the media to undertake its role of being a public watch dog; in fighting poor governance of the sector, corruption in management and administration of the forest estate that is characterized by land grabbing and other forms of illegalities.

Media relations too, has challenges which include among others:

· Commercialization of the print and electronic media leading to abandoning of its role to inform and educate the public. Media houses in Uganda are concentrating on entertainment and advertising that earn a lot of revenue and avail limited space to the delivery of information and education to the public.

· Reporters and editors have limited knowledge and understanding of forestry science and forestry business and forest resources managers have failed to position and package themselves for media consumption. For this reason, forestry stories have not found their way to the pages even when they are newsworthy.

· “Killing” of stories is a common phenomenon particularly corruption stories involving high ranking political figures or land grabbing stories involving large investment companies - editors get paid to ”kill” stories or reporters are lured to abandon stories.

· Illegal logging and other forestry stories are seated deep in natural forests that are inaccessible, located thousands of kilometers in rural areas and media houses are not willing to invest in looking for stories deep in the rural area. They prefer to cover roadside stories and stories on the floor of parliament.

What do we do as Tree Talk?

· Publish Tree Talk Newsletter; each issue is shaped around topical issues (climate change, energy demand, watershed management, charcoal production, carbon trading, among others). The targeted audiences write back as a feedback mechanism.

· Comprehensive radio programming – reaching out to the public through radio with messages on planting, growing and protection of trees as a livelihoods option, source of income and pension (for farmers that have no social security). Listeners have an opportunity to call-in during the radio talk shows.

· Face-to-face communication – an interactive approach of providing advisory services and technical guidance to tree farmers at field level. This is through community level meetings and training sessions.

Through this, we’ve been able to contribute to bringing forests onto the agenda of general discussion; increasing public demand and social acceptability for sustainable forest management; strengthening networking and co-operation within the forest sector and activating communication as an integral part of forest resources management in the Uganda.

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