News for nature: communicating biodiversity importance and conservation challenges in Guinea-Bissau, West Africa, through local media and online platforms

Maria Joana Ferreira da Silva*, Tânia Minhós, Susana Sampaio-Dias

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

Guinea-Bissau, an important regional biodiversity hotspot in West Africa, faces the challenge of raising awareness among the general public about the significance of natural resources for rural communities' survival and the need for biodiversity conservation. This knowledge gap hinders conservation efforts as initiatives are deemed irrelevant or unnecessary. A climate of political vulnerability, financial uncertainty and threats to media freedom are further obstacles to conservation biology. Researchers lack established communication platforms for academic dissemination. In this paper, we introduce the initiative News for Nature/PRIMACTION (2020–2022), which aimed to establish a communication channel between researchers and media agents. The project had two primary objectives: firstly, to raise awareness among the Guinea-Bissau society about the importance of national biodiversity and conservation challenges; and secondly, to enhance the capacity of specific communicators and opinion makers. The project had several important outputs, including: i) a bi-monthly newspaper section focused on “biodiversity conservation in Guinea-Bissau”, ii) three radio-theatre episodes performed by a well-known group and broadcasted nationally, iii) one song composed and sung by famous musicians, with an introduction by Jane Goodall, and iv) a website providing technical resources for journalists covering biodiversity and conservation news. Collaborators mentioned the lack of logistical conditions for traveling in the country as a major impediment in reporting conservation-related news. We emphasize the significance of establishing direct contact and articulation between researchers and local media to promote conservation research in West African countries. In countries where science communication and environmental education outreach are not well-established, it is crucial to bridge the challenges faced by the communities in different regions of the same country. This is especially urgent in cases where such challenges are significant.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13051
Number of pages4
JournalConservation Science and Practice
Early online date28 Nov 2023
DOIs
Publication statusEarly online - 28 Nov 2023

Keywords

  • environmental journalism
  • protected areas
  • radio theatre
  • song

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