Developing Guidelines on Forest-Media Cooperation, March 2021

18 Mar, 2021

Towards effective communication on Human-Wildlife Conflict Mitigation

The sub-zero draft of the ‘Guidelines to the Cooperation between Forest and Media sector towards effective communication on Human-Wildlife Conflict Mitigation’ has been developed by an author group drawn entirely from the media and communication sector, with long-standing experience of working with forest and wildlife sector, to ensure that the overall framework and structure of the guidelines is in line with the prevalent thought process in the media sector.

A meeting of the Group of Coordinators and Authors was organised on 18 March 2021 to bring together the core group of experts and institutions to brainstorm and finalise the way forward for the guidelines and capacity development measures for media-forest cooperation on HWC Mitigation in India.

Dr Neeraj Khera, Team Leader, HWC Mitigation project, GIZ welcomed the participants and provided an overview of the overall context of the guidelines, Institutional framework, ToRs of CLAs, and authors, and objectives and tasks of the workshop. Mr Rohit Tiwari, Inspector General of Forests (Wildlife), Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change provided opening remarks, and emphasised the importance of media in success of human-wildlife conflict (HWC) mitigation strategy and measures, especially via generating public support for the mitigation measures. He appreciated the efforts of the Indo-German Project for strengthening the cooperation between wildlife and media sectors in India. He welcomed the experts from the Deutsche Welle (DW) Akademie of Germany that has been engaged by GIZ under this Project to support in providing state-of-the-art trainings for media professionals in India, and the Indian Media training institutions that are working with GIZ to integrate HWC topic into their overall media curriculum.

Dr Khera shared the engagement with the Media sector is being operationalised through a four-pronged strategy:

  • Guidelines on Forest-Media Cooperation
  • Documentation of experiences and good practices, to inform policy process, as well as capacity development approaches
  • Training measures, which include development of HWC Mitigation curriculum and training modules; and integration of HWC mitigation modules into the overall curriculum of media students; training and dialogue with media professionals that also include cross-sector simulation trainings between forest and media sectors
  • A web-based National Knowledge platform to support the dialogue and learning process

Existing sub-zero draft of the Media guidelines was presented by Media Experts - Mr Ananda Banerjee and Mr Virat Singh. Key points that were recommended to the author group to be incorporated in the draft included use of social media, documentation of specific case studies on HWC reporting where both media and wildlife sector were actively involved, further work on the crisis communication section by providing summarised steps, etc. Dr Neeraj Khera shared that a Media toolkit is being developed simultaneously and will be further fine-tuned during the pilot testing phase.

Following feedback and experiences from field were shared by the Wildlife and Media Experts:

  • Regular interaction of wildlife officials with media during non-crisis situations is important and procedures on proactive interaction with local media must be added.
  • Balanced reporting and avoidance of sensationalisation to be emphasised in the guidelines.
  • Validation of news before publication from authentic source should be done to avoid propagation of fake news.
  • Apart from journalists, public relations and communications experts and PR related nodal officers from the departments should also be included in the workshops, and media dialogues, being planned under the Project
  • Knowledge exchange formats such as joint workshops and web-platforms between different States and actors are significant in mutual learning and cooperation

In the context of the measures for generating long-term impact on media professionals in India, the relevance of integrating the holistic approach to HWC at the media training institutions was discussed. Ms Perrie Subramaniam, Head of the Mass Media Department at St Xavier’s College, Mumbai shared the experiences from the pilot testing of the HWC curriculum for media students developed under the project at St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai. She appreciated the methodology and the content of the curriculum and shared that the curriculum has been integrated and being implemented in the 1st year and 3rd year coursework of journalism students. Ms Pragati Paul, Senior Faculty at AJK Mass Communication Research Centre, Jamia Millia Islamia shared the plan of implementing the HWC module for media students at their centre in the coming months. Due to COVID-19 pandemic, the need to develop e-Learning courses has been realised, and it was discussed that a special emphasis will be given to develop e-Learning courses for media professionals.

Ms Priya Esselborn from the Deutsche Welle (DW) Akademie of Germany shared about overall portfolio of Deutsche Welle Akademie in the field of training of media professionals. She highlighted the use of hands-on and interactive training methods used by DW Akademie. Prof. Dr. Thorsten Schaefer from Germany appreciated the need for a strong plan to enhance the media-forest cooperation on HWC mitigation in India, while sharing his experiences of environmental journalism and trainings from other countries.

Dr Khera briefed the participants on the below process of pilot implementation of the media guidelines:

  • Fortnightly meetings at 20 divisions in the three Project partner States of Karnataka, Uttarakhand, and West Bengal during April-September 20021
  • Feedback to be received on guidelines through joint Forest-Media simulation trainings
  • Wider consultations with wildlife and media sector experts and institutions

The meeting closed with Dr Khera sharing a draft template for documenting case studies, developed by the Project, to collect experiences and good practices on HWC, including reporting and communication related case studies. GIZ and DW Akademie will use this template in documentation of case studies from India and around the globe.


About the project

The Human-Wildlife Conflict Mitigation (HWC) project is implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) in partnership with the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, and State Forest Departments of Karnataka, Uttarakhand and West Bengal. The project aims at providing technical support at the national level, and effective implementation of HWC mitigation measures in selected states of India. The project pilot sites are: Haridwar Forest Division and adjoining landscape including Rajaji Tiger Reserve in Uttarakhand, Gorumara Wildlife Division in West Bengal, and Kodagu Forest Circle in Karnataka.

The main objective of the project is that the rural population in project areas, where agreed guidelines and tools are applied to mitigate human-wildlife conflict, is better protected against it. The project takes the approach of harmonious coexistence, by ensuring that both—human and wildlife—are protected from conflict. Read more

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