There was much talk in 2017 about the formation of a platform for effective information dissemination among CFS stakeholders – much talk by multiple quarters who had different visions for this platform. The CFS Roundtable was one (30 Nov 17). My Forest Watch was another (14 Dec 17). As if that wasn’t enough, GEF decided to get our attention by running the IRR for IC-CFS in the same year (29 Nov & 8 Dec 17). This is in addition to the government’s own Seminar Kebangsaan Central Forest Spine (CFS) [27-28 Jul 17) and other state-level workshops. I have to add that some of the speakers representing state governments at Seminar Kebangsaan CFS were absolutely dismal, with one State UPEN (Unit Perancang Ekonomi/Economic Planning Unit) representative repeatedly confusing CFS with another project, the Central Spine Road.
And then there was MyCFS just last week (30 May 17) – the culmination of a year’s worth of planning, consultation, hesitation, and I’m sure, frustration. Let’s take a look at the initial ‘Stakeholder Perceptions …’ workshop that led to the formation of MyCFS.
6th February 2017: Stakeholder Perceptions & Spatial Priorities of Central Forest Spine Master Plan
Organizers: MEME & Wild Asia
Funded by: Yayasan Hasanah
1. Primary linkages (PLs) that are no longer viable [consider conversion to secondary linkage (SLs)]?
Nearly all groups lacked information/data on the ground (hint: get people on the ground, guys) to make any recommendations, but there were suggestions that PL3 (Lojing) and PL11 (Jerangau) should be reduced to SLs based on their current land use (rubber plantations & oil palm plantations).
2. Does the CFS Master Plan need a review?
Many NGOs think so, but FRIM was firmly against it.
3. Linkages that:
a) have the highest conservation impact?
PL1, PL2, PL7 of CFS1 were voted most.
b) are the easiest to implement (low hanging fruit)?
PL1, PL2, PL7 of CFS1 were voted most.
c) are the most neglected?
Too many, but chiefly Bera area in CFS 2 (PLs 2,4,5,6) and Ulu Muda area in CFS 1 (PLs 4,5,8).
4. An effective communication platform to disseminate information to all relevant stakeholders on the national, state, and linkage levels.
Multiple strategies were proposed, including the existing state-level platform of Terengganu, where state-wide stakeholder workshops are held twice a year and linkage-level working groups can meet when necessary – this will avoid bogging-down state officials from states with many linkages.
Mr. Nagu’s presentation also proposed that the National Stakeholder Committee (NSC)* should meet once/twice a year, and that the NSC:
should be chaired by a NGO representative
must contain National Steering Committee** representative to ensure information is communicated to the government
Other NGO representatives present repeatedly asked for the NSC to be chaired by a governmental agency, which Mr. Nagu refuted by saying it would just replicate the National Steering Committee.
*National Stakeholder Committee includes all CFS stakeholders, such as government agencies, NGOs, universities, civil society organizations etc.
**National Steering Committee includes the following (2014)
5. Strategies to raise awareness (that leads to action) among different stakeholders.
Take-home message is that there is no one-size fits all, and that each stakeholder will require a specifically-tailored message to secure buy-in. Mr. Nagu suggested that the National Steering Committee get professionals to properly brand CFS, and for the development of an awareness strategy document. General strategies to raise awareness amongst:
a) Communities & Orang Asli –
i. raising awareness via schools and other education centres, starting with those nearest to CFS areas (NGO-driven, state-funded).
ii. NGOs to reach local communities to identify and raise local champions who will be the main points of contact with governmental agencies such as PERHILITAN or State Forestry Department to serve as informants on enforcement issues etc..
iii. Educate local communities through env. programs and projects about how the forests and hence, CFS, affects them (NGO- and university-driven, state-funded).
b) Media – short web videos, radio sections, TV advertisements etc.
c) Decision-makers –
i. academic journals are too expensive
ii. NRE asked Mr. Nagu for a policy brief for the “Stakeholder Perceptions & Spatial Priorities” session
iii. Mr. Nagu added that more policy briefs to be done, and more communication (especially of bad news) to the decision-makers by NGOs and communities (as civil servants risk losing their jobs when they report less than satisfactory performance on projects).
NGOs to co-develop projects with them via CSR efforts, allowing for knowledge transfer in hopes of securing long-term buy-ins.
Since the 6th of Feb 2017, the MEME-Wild Asia movement has laid low owing to My Forest Watch, CFS Roundtable, IC-CFS and the like. Their soft launch of MyCFS last week was a good effort to re-establish communications among stakeholders since the momentous change in government.
How MyCFS progresses from here is anyone's guess, as its function is as of yet, undefined.
*Thank you for submitting information from the "Stakeholder Perceptions & Spatial Priorities" workshop - we could not have written this without your contributions.