Journalists brainstorm corporate social responsibilities and annual forestry tax

21 September 2017
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A workshop on reflection and capacity building for journalists of the community radio networks on forest governance (RRACOGF) and award winning journalists from the third edition of Forest Media Awards (ForMA), was organised on issues relating to the annual forestry tax (RFA) and corporate social responsibilities. The workshop took place from 21-24 August 2017 in Kribi, in the Southern region of Cameroon. This workshop was organised by the association ‘Forêts et Développement Rural’ (FODER) within the framework of the project ‘Voice of Citizens for Change: Congo Basin Forest Monitoring (CV4C)‘.This training was in line with one of the results of the CV4C project, namely improving the quality and availability of information from independent sources on compliance with legal standards in forestry and land tenure.

A total of 13 journalists took part in this capacity building session. The workshop allowed participating journalists from different parts of the country to enrich their knowledge through a study carried out by FODER on the management mechanisms of RFA,  specifically the collection, decrease and management control of the annual forestry tax (RFA) in Cameroon. This study undertaken by FODER was shared with participants and should serve as a documentary source for the treatment of subjects related to RFA.

The training allowed media professionals to share their experiences on techniques for collecting and processing data on forestry issues, as well as benefiting from lessons on corporate social responsibilities as stipulated by the forestry law in Cameroon. Georges Emmanuel Tsayid, a member of RRACO-GF and award-winner of the radio category of the ForMA said:

“Thanks to these lessons, I can now better direct my investigations on social responsibilities, as I was able to learn the specifics of these Social responsibilities (SR). My colleagues and I were able to identify what can be considered as infringement in terms of SR”.

At the end of the workshop, journalists set up an information-sharing network. Through a WhatsApp group created for the beneficiaries, members have made commitments to relay information to one another. Giscard Bounga, the chairman of RRACO-GF said:

We come from various localities, and as journalists practicing in forest areas, we will be able to provide our colleagues in urban areas with fresh information from the field. In turn, we will receive all decisions in the forestry field taken at the level of the urban governing bodies, so that we can share with those in our communities”.

Overall, participants appreciated the lessons learned during the training. Many participants said that they had enriched their vocabulary on forestry and journalistic issues. Some have made a commitment to use these assets to become more involved in investigations of RFA and corporate social responsibilities.

Feedback from participants

“The Kribi workshop was very rich in teaching for a journalist like me who is increasingly interested in the forest sector. I have learned a great deal, both on social responsibilities issues and on the annual forest tax (RFA). It is easier for me today to identify infringements as regards to social responsibilities and matters of companies’ specification.  Through this training, I was also able to retrain myself, especially on the methodology of investigative journalism. Even though there is substantive field work to be done, we hope to be of great assistance towards its realisation.”
Ebenizer Diki, radio journalist at RTS

“The workshop held from 22 to 24 August 2017, in Kribi, in the Ocean division, South region of Cameroon, was for me a new experience as a journalist specialised in the field of health and environment. I was able to acquire and enrich myself on certain concepts which are in line with forest related issues. The workshop was a way of providing me with more insight into certain concepts, particularly with regards to the management and collection mechanisms, as well as to secure revenues. I have been able to find out about the advocacy currently being pursued by communities, including traditional leaders who have already begun talks with parliamentarians, government and diplomats involved in forest governance. The workshop allowed me to self-assess professionally, and instigated me to talk about forest governance issues. I am more curious to go to the field and point out some of the realities facing waterfront communities.”
Elise Kenimbeni, Journalist at Timenews.com

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Author: Christelle Kouétcha, FODER