|Biodiversity in the Western Ghats: An Information Kit (IIRR, 1994, 224 p.)|
|9. Appreciating and conserving biodiversity|
The conservation movement is a movement for the people, by the people and of the people. But how to reach the people? National, state and local governments have been slow to respond. Media, both print and electronic, have a major role to play.
Environmental education, awareness and training play a vital role in evolving strategies for conservation protection and management of environment. The media can help build public awareness on actions they can take, for instance, tree planting and people-oriented strategies to regenerate India's wastelands.
The mass media are not the only methods: seminars, workshops, rallies, training courses, public meetings, padayatras, exhibitions, essay contests, debates, paintings and poster competitions, folk dances and street theatres need to be organized at regular intervals to spread the message of conservation.
Biodiversity and the media
Despite the importance of environmental issues, the media pay them scant attention. The coverage is often distorted, unscientific and negative, aimed at creating an issue to sell the paper. This situation needs to be corrected through training and motivation.
Journalists are key gatekeepers in the information dissemination process. There is a need to educate and motivate them in environmental concepts and in local and regional issues.
A common complaint is that information in the media is incorrect. Often the coverage is based on press releases issued by the interested parties for their own motives. Reporters must be aware of the dangers of such manipulation. Sound interaction among official agencies, NGOs, nature clubs, scientists and the media can ensure that accurate information is published.
NGOs can help ensure accuracy in the media's coverage by establishing a syndicated feature service to disseminate stories. Newspaper "stringers" (part-time reporters) should be given guidelines on how to cover environment-related stories and encouraged to seek out such stories. Broadcast media should be encouraged to record on location in the field rather than in the studio. The media should report activities of interest and related to the community.
Methods of promoting conservation
Survey of flora, fauna, forests, wildlife
Environmental impact assessment
Assistance to organizations implementing environmental and forestry programmes
Formulation of environmental policies
Extension, education and staff training
Dissemination of environmental information
Creation of public awareness on the environment
Prepared by Jagdish Wagh