Media Practitioners in Cross River State, have been charged to carry out adequate and consistent report on the environment to protect the forest.
This was contained in a Media Action Plan at the end of a one day media sensitisation on Forest, Community concerns and Superhighway, organised by a Non Governmental Organisation, Peace Point Action in Calabar.
It called on owners of media organizations to provide adequate funds for journalists in their employ to enhance investigating environmental matters.
Non-governmental organizations should provide grants to reporters and sponsor or invite journalists on trips to communities affected by super highway, deep seaport and other projects for further investigations, it added.
Participants also appealed for human angle stories to be published by media houses as well as in the reportage of environmental issues.
It also called on Journalists in Cross River to constitute themselves into an environmental team for effective news dissemination, do follow ups on government programmes as they affect the environment as well as to do reports urging the Cross River State government to pay compensation to communities and individuals whose means of livelihood have been destroyed by the commencement of the super highway project.
It said “for the purposed super highway and deep seaports projects to adopt international best practices to guarantee protection of the environment, Cross River government must enter into further dialogue with the affected communities and stakeholders.
The media, the Action Plan said should collaborate with Civil Society groups and NGOs in sensitizing communities on their rights over land ownership while the State Government must follow due process in acquiring land because it holds the land in trust for the people.
It enjoined the media to do more reports on activities of illegal loggers and the increasing rate of deforestation in Cross River state.
While commending Cross River based journalists for a job well done said “you should be the global reference point for what is a local, national and international issue on the super highway and other environmental issues”.
It called on journalists to highlight and follow up on the 23 conditions given by the Federal Ministry of Environment in the 4th EIA, and described the proposed super highway project as a monumental failure.
The media also agreed to highlight the destruction caused by the super highway preliminary works, which has already had negative impact on the communities, to do follow ups on moratorium and revenue loss arising from the degradation of the forest for the super highway project.
The forum condenmed the re-alignment of the Cross River National Park saying “it is illegal and should be stopped”.
It called on the media tofocus reports on political leaders from the affected communities to rise up and stop the ongoing destruction of the forest and alleviate the sufferings of the people.
The seminar was attended by media practitioners, communication consultants as well as civil society organizations on environment.f
It featured paper presentations, group discussions and extensive deliberations on the proposed super highway project and its impact on the environment and the communities.