Trending Landscapes: Science went social at the Global Landscapes Forum


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Some of the 2015 Social Reporters at the Global Landscapes Forum Selfie Wall. Photo: Laura Deal/GLF

Some of the 2015 Social Reporters at the Global Landscapes Forum Selfie Wall. Photo: Laura Deal/GLF
This article was written by a social reporter. It has not been edited by the Forum organisers or partners, and represents the opinion of the individual author only.

The Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) on 5-6 December tapped the power of social media to report updates during the event, empowering the general public with knowledge on the issues involved with sustainably managing landscapes.

More than 20 young environmental advocates, science and agriculture writers, freelance journalists, development workers and graduate students from across the globe were selected to act as social media reporters during the event, providing real-time information to a global audience.

Before the forum, the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and the Global Landscapes Forum organizers conducted a two-day Social Reporting Boot Camp to teach the 25 participants how to use various social media platforms, strategies for reporting from live events, and how to approach writing on environmental and landscape issues accurately.

“The workshop was an intensive, exciting experience that honed our social media and journalistic skills,” said social reporter Anna Hickman, communications consultant with Climate and Development Knowledge Network, LEDS Global Partnership and the Climate News Network. “It gave us the opportunity to practice online reporting in real time, and we were then able to do this at the Global Landscapes Forum.”

The training integrated the four themes of the forum. Social Reporters were introduced to different landscape issues and initiatives by scientists, such as REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation), the concept of landscapes approaches, agroforestry, payments for ecosystem services, and the power of transparency for tackling deforestation and climate change.

“I did not have any communications or journalism background before, so I found the Social Reporting Boot Camp incredibly refreshing and enriching,” said Social Reporter Michaela Lo, a graduate student from Kobenhavns Universitet in Copenhagen, Denmark.

“I think the greatest experience that I gained from the four days was conversing with other passionate, young reporters who shared their own unique experience and knowledge with the team. It was greatly encouraging to connect with people of the same generation who shared the same challenges and obstacles, and together overcoming the fears we face as young people,” said Lo.

Using the Twitter hashtags #GLFCOP21 and #ThinkLandscape, the Social Reporters conducted live-tweeting from discussion forums and wrote stories for landscapes.org’s blog section.

“The GLF Social Reporting Boot Camp was an exciting way to dive straight into the action of the Global Landscapes Forum,” said Social Reporter Adrien Salazar, Master of Environmental Management student of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. “The action was non-stop and we were able to contribute to the live online presence of the event. The topics were all fascinating and the forum gave a window into the cutting edge of climate change, development, and many other relevant issues.”

The more than 3,000 general participants of the forum also took to social media, providing updates and sharing their learnings and reflections online. Posts were shared and re-tweeted by the official accounts of the Global Landscapes Forum and its partners, expanding and intensifying the presence of the event on Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms.

The online activity also fortified in-person networking and collaborations at the forum. Participants were able to connect to and keep in touch with the leaders, scientists, game changers and decision-makers from different landscape sectors.

“It gave the chance to meet people from around the world with similar interests and skills. This was a fantastic learning opportunity, but also, it provided the groundwork for future partnerships and collaborations,” Hickman said.

With the Global Landscapes Forum, science and social media converged in a way that made ‘netizens’ care about the issues involving our landscapes. It built momentum to put the science of land use and landscape management—for many a niche topic—closer to the general public.