The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has the greatest area of tropical rainforests in Africa, covering more than 100 million hectares. However, forest-related themes are not often featured in the Congolese press.One exception, however, is climate change. Though a relatively new topic for media professionals, especially in the Congo Basin, climate change has been increasingly placed on national, regional and international agendas.
In the DRC, training workshops and seminars have been organized to keep researchers and others up-to-date with climate change knowledge. Unfortunately, those working in the media have not been part of these initiatives. This void has been created either by the absence of in-depth analyses or the superficial treatment of related topics by the media, especially in the Congo Basin.
In a working paper published by CIFOR, and FTA partner institution, in 2014, ‘REDD+ Policies in the Media: The Case of the Written Press in the Democratic Republic of Congo’, an analysis of media discourse on REDD+ in the DRC between 2008 and 2011 was presented. The publication underscores the limited media discourse on the topic in the DRC. One of the reasons for this is the relatively new and broad nature of the subject matter, which ranges from ecology to politics and legal, economic and sociological issues. The unfortunate reality is that the effects of climate variation and climate change are visible and harshly felt, yet they remain absent from the agendas of many African countries.
This challenging situation is caused by the lack of human and financial resources and expertise in the various media organs of the DRC. Added to this, the reality of the Congo Basin sub-region is that few journalism training institutions specialize in environmental reporting.
There was therefore an urgent need to bridge the gap between scientists and journalists, especially as capacity building is an important component of the Forests and Climate Change in the Democratic Republic of Congo (FCCC) project.
The work of FTA partners has increased awareness among journalists and editors of the intrinsic interest in, and importance of forestry issues, and related newsworthy angles and subject material.
This has led to improved and increased media coverage and public awareness of forests and climate change, which will lead to policy and behavioral change in the DRC.