CEC Chair speaks on media messages at Asia-Pacific Forestry Week

CEC's Keith Wheeler and Frits Hesselink added an interactive element to a plenary session on communicating forestry at the APFW in Beijing.

Keith Wheeler, CEC Chair, at Asia-Pacific Foresty Week

Keith Wheeler, CEC Chair, was a keynote speaker at the Asia-Pacific Forestry Week conference in Beijing, China, speaking in the November 9 plenary session ' New Media – New Messages: Forestry communications in Asia and the Pacific'. The aim was to provide participants with improved understanding and inspirational, practical ideas about how to shape messages on forestry that will capture the world’s attention. This also presented CEC with an opportunity to seek new CEC members in the region, especially in China.

Frits Hesselink, CEC Special Advisor, faciliated the 'interactive part' of the plenary session on communicating forestry. "It is more useful to generate interaction around some key questions, than having people listen to a long presentation!"  Frits observed. After viewing the CEC video Love. Not Loss, participants divided into small groups and engaged in lively discussion. The two hundred people in the room turned their chairs around and started animated conversations around a few key questions: What are good examples of communications that support positive change? What are do’s and don’ts? The results of their discussions are summarized in the list below. 

The session received high marks on evaluations by organizers of Forestry Week. Many people listed the communications plenary session specifically under the heading, "What was the best thing about Forestry Week?" organizers said. In a separate activity, a proposal was made by a participating country to establish a forestry communication working group under the auspices of CEC.

Participants' notes on best practices in communicating forests:

Lessons learned

  • Networking
  • Targeting people who will respond to your message
  • Simple message
  • Don’t let foresters communicate – well, not all the time
  • Forest media specialists are in short supply
  • Media is a participatory process


  • Start young
  • Have a clear goal and get stakeholders onboard
  • Know your audience – Is your message packaged appropriately?
  • Tailor your message for your audience and keep it simple
  • Be creative
  • Be positive where possible
  • Offer solutions where possible
  • Make technical information practical
  • Get your hands dirty - make sure we capture what is happening on the ground and at the community level
  • Choose your spokesperson carefully
  • Get to know the media (personal contact)


  • Don’t push
  • Try not to be exclusive
  • Keep your enemies list as small as possible
  • Don’t just summarize – FocusDon’t tamper with the drivers of change?
  • Don't threaten


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