Help forests “drum” the message home



It was very noisy, but effective in attracting our attention during yesterday’s session at the World Forestry Congress, “Connecting forests and people – building capacity to communicate”.

The session got off to a dramatic start, with a splendid performance of traditional drumming ala Kwazulu Natal and Miss Earth. It was a smart way to attract participants’ attention to join the discussion. Moreover, under each single chair in the hall, there was a traditional drum provided to round off discussion at the end of the session. The message? Forestry problems need noisy drums – effective public relations and communication – to spread the message for better future forests.

The drumming was a great example of how attract people’s attention and it succeeded. I just looked back to current forestry situation, especially in Indonesia. At the WFC we have been hearing about the plight of forests in some countries and also around the world. The information provided is not making us happy, because the situation is deteriorating. This underlines the importance of communicating forestry problems to any institution or stakeholders concerned with forestry.

Attending this session was interesting and amazing not just because of the drumming performance, but because of what was said by the speakers. They shared their insights into the know-how of communication and why communication is important for forestry.

Robert Grace , Head of Strategy at M&C Saatchi Abel, said there are three aspects to be considered while we are communicating: know your purpose, know your enemy and
what your are measuring. His presentation was amazing, because he delivered information (plus video) in a way that audiences could grab his messages easily. He also emphasised that communicating is different than just providing information. It is not sufficient just to inform people about forests – we need to be communicating as well.

Ingwald Gschwandtl, from Austria’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management, and Kai Lintunen of the Finnish Forest Association, outlined ten aspects necessary for good stakeholder communication. These included political will, the capacity to communicate well, resources, strategy and solid evidence, creativity and perseverance.

So is ten is better than three? It is not that simple. Those speakers were sharing their different perspectives and expertise. What they all agreed on, however, with the importance of spreading the messages about forestry in a good and positive manner. Ms. Maria de Cristofaro, Forestry communication officer, FAO, also said, to be consistent it is important to communicate forestry only in one voice.

We are here now at WFC to find ways to better manage forests. As we are already aware, the dialogue needs to increase – we need more people to join the discussion, to act – that is why we need good communication good public relations for better future forests.

Blogpost by Bugi Kabul Sumirat – bugisumirat(at)
Picture courtesy Emilio Labrador

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