The seminar was part of the OECS Protected Areas and Associated Livelihoods (OPAAL) Project executed by the OECS Secretariat through its Environment and Sustainable Development Unit (ESDU), in partnership with the World Bank as an implementing agency for the Global Environment Facility (GEF), and the Fond Francais de l’Environment Mondial (FFEM) of the Government of France.
Over the two-day period, participants were engaged in discussions concerning coverage challenges as well as the introduction of a media tool kit on biodiversity. A media tour was also done at the Wingfield Rainforest, one of the Protected Areas of St. Kitts where the participants had a firsthand look at a working protected area, as well as the opportunity to ask questions of field experts after which they had to create a feature story on the visited area.
Maria Protz a Lecturer at the University of the West Indies, Jamaica, facilitated the seminar. Protz, who has over 20 years of experience working in rural communications for the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and other organisations, explained that the objective was to help strengthen and increase the much needed media coverage on protected areas and biodiversity conservation.
“OPAL and the OECS recognize that it’s often challenging to the media to cover biodiversity issues. The topic itself is not attractive, so we wanted to explore with the media how we could cover the stories without using that term (biodiversity).
“The other key point was that we recognized that the OECS countries media houses do not have enough resources to work with, so therefore we wanted to find ways of making it much easier,” Protz explained to MiyVue.com.
The facilitator also commended the participants for their contribution towards the workshop, stating that, “Those who attended were very committed and seemed to have enjoyed the process.”
“For the participants that were here they really showed their commitment because we had a field trip and they were required to write an article on what they discovered during the trip, and those who produced their stories did very well,” she added.
Meanwhile, some of the participants who spoke with MiyVue.com expressed satisfaction with the seminar.
One individual, Glenroy Blanchette said, “The workshop was timely, in terms of the context that was disseminated as well as the increase in awareness on biodiversity issues that’s not only affecting St. Kitts but also the region.”
A MiyVue.com reporter who also attended the seminar said, “It was an eye opener for me.
“I’ve come across the term biodiversity before but never did any actual reporting on issues pertaining to the topic because I’ve done little research on the topic. However, the information that was passed on during the day and a half session has now fuelled me to do more intensive research and create articles on some of the related issues around St. Kitts and Nevis.”
Other media representatives across the independent OECS states such as Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica and St. Lucia have already completed the seminar. St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada are the two remaining countries and their workshops are slated to begin in February.