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Workshop on Public Relations in the Forest and Forest Industry Sector in Transition Countries

Workshop on Public Relations in the Forest and Forest Industry Sector in Transition Countries

13 - 16 November 1996
Ossiach Austria


1.    The workshop was opened and chaired on 13 November 1996 by Mr. Ingwald Gschwandtl, Leader of the Joint FAO/ECE Team of Public Relations Specialists in the Forest and Forest Industries Sector.  Professor Günter Sonnleitner, Director of the Forestry Extension Centre in Ossiach, where the meeting was held, welcomed the participants.  The workshop was organized under the auspices of the ECE Timber Committee and FAO European Forestry Commission and was organized by the Team of Public Relations Specialists.  The workshop was sponsored by the Austrian Federal Ministry for Agriculture and Forestry.

2.    The workshop was attended by participants and speakers from Albania, Austria, Belarus, Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Romania, and Slovakia (list of participants in annex 1).  Mr. Ed Pepke, UN-ECE Timber Section and FAO, was rapporteur.


3.    Ms. Sigrid Bachinger (Austria) began the workshop by defining public relations (PR) as 2-way communication to promote an image, as opposed to advertising a product.  She said we need to bring ideas and developments in the forest and forest industries (FFI) sector to the public, including environmental groups, via the media.  PR is very broad, but specific techniques must be used to reach different audiences.  She emphasized that PR begins within the industry and she cited the example of her newsletter for the foresters and forest industry of Austria.  Foresters are PR people and Austria has PR training for foresters at the university and the professional levels.

4.    Ms. Sabine Neumann (Austria) spoke about the relation between the forest and the public and the messages that the Ministry conveys: forest area is increasing; the harvest is below the level of growth; and there is comprehensive forest management on both public and private lands.  Current campaigns are:  1. Forest Week; 2. 10 annual awards for model private forests; 3. Pride in Wood; 4. programmes for children and teachers.  She stressed the need for regular public opinion polls which have proven the success of Austrian PR campaigns over the last decade.

5.    In the following discussion Austria stated that public opinion polls were a crucial part of effective PR in order to objectively and accurately gauge the success of campaigns and to determine needs.  No other country participating in the workshop had yet undertaken any public opinion polls and thus some countries felt that their one-way communication was not really PR.  Now Austria conducts its polls in conjunction with trade associations through professional pollsters, but originally polls were conducted by students.

6.    Each country presented a national report and examples of PR brochures (annex 2).  In summary most countries in transition (CITs) had initiated formal PR work at the federal level although they lack infrastructural links with trade associations.  For example Romania established a new PR department in the ministry and Croatia established a PR post in the State Forest Enterprise.  Most countries have conducted PR campaigns, like forest days, or more targeted campaigns like Lithuania's PR during the biological pesticide spraying to control the nun moth and pine caterpillar outbreak (which built on Poland's successful PHARE-sponsored campaign).  While all countries have individual PR challenges, all countries realized the opportunity and need for PR during this period of forest land restitution to private owners.  In addition to Austria, specific PR campaigns directed at children exist in Bulgaria, Croatia, Lithuania and Macedonia.

7.    The period of transition was seen as an opportunity to increase awareness and change traditional thinking about the FFI sector.  As PR is a continually improving process the needs will evolve both internally within government and industry and externally to the public, and especially new private forest land owners.  Other groups are emerging, like environmental NGOs and trade associations, and they require specific public relations efforts to address their interests.

8.    Mr. Peter Csoka (Hungary) presented results from the Ministerial Conference for Protection of Forests in Europe, Helsinki Resolution 3, on assistance to CITs.  After showing forest land statistics, including ownership, in CITs, he stated the strengths of forestry in CITs: strong forestry tradition and education; biologically and environmentally friendly management practices; plantation establishment; physical potential to expand fellings; low labour costs; and proximity to markets.  However the weaknesses were: lack of capacity in policy, planning and management analysis; outdated equipment; and lack of domestic capital.  Although the needs of CITs are diverse in the FFI sector, information development, including statistics and PR, is a universal requirement.

9.    Ms. Bachinger reviewed general PR concepts in planning and implementing campaigns: 1. assess current situation; 2. set goals; 3. plan implementation; 4. implement; and 5. assess results through public opinion poles.  In the following discussion examples of successful PR campaigns were mentioned in the 1996 Gmunden report from the PR Team meeting and in the PR Toolkit (Communications Strategies in Forestry and Forest Industry Sector).  Austria's next PR campaigns will focus on the implications of ongoing international processes for the Austrian FFI sector in an effort to "think globally, act locally."

10.    Mr. Gschwandtl said that once the target audience is selected, PR tools must be adapted in order to convey the appropriate messages so that they will be correctly interpreted.

11.    Mr. Andreas Schwab (Austria) described the PR approaches for children.  He explained activities organized with the Vienna Youth Council including family forest visits, enterprise visits, holiday adventures/games, teaching forestry, planting forests, etc.  Foresters in the Vienna region are now committed to lead 2 excursions per month and the number of excursions is now 200 per year (however 400 per year are needed to reach all students near age 12).  They have established a site on the World Wide Web for better communications to children, teachers, etc.

12.    Ms. Bachinger presented rules for working with the media: first establish a goal, then determine the approach, and finally implement the strategy without deviating from the plan.  She explained how to prepare a press packet and how to plan and carry out a press conference.  The steps for preparing printed materials, as presented by Mr. Gschwandtl, are:

  1. identify target audience;
  2. choose emotional pictures;
  3. compose text carefully;
  4. determine the length, layout and printing quality necessary for the intended purpose;
  5. distribute to target audience(s).

13.    Television interviews, according to Mr. Gschwandtl, have higher impact, but have increased risk.  They can be informational and descriptive, confrontational or personal.  Careful preparation is necessary for both audiences, the interviewer and the viewers.

14.    Mr. Gschwandtl spoke on international cooperation in PR in explaining the Rio UNCED follow-up and its effect at the country level.  He invited the workshop participants to become active in the Joint FAO/ECE Team of Public Relations Specialists in order to unify PR messages and to link PR activities and philosophies between countries.  He said the Team wants to extend their network into more central and eastern European countries.

Field trips

15.    The first field trip was to the ORF, Austrian Broadcasting studios for Carinthia.  The director showed the facilities for radio and television broadcasting and then discussed their operations.  He said that some stories in the FFI sector had been aired and additional stories would have to meet the same criteria: new, interesting, and meeting viewers' desires.  The ORF is currently undergoing privatization and already has competition from German language broadcasts from outside Austria.

16.    The second field trip was to Kötschach to visit Mr. Peter Webhofer, recipient of the national award for model forestry in 1996.  He explained the importance of the FFI sector in Carinthia and the role of the forest farmer.  In addition to management of his agricultural and forest land, he is active in economic development for the Lesachtal Valley, a European Ecological Area,  where they are attempting to increase tourism without changing traditional ways of life.  PR is an important part of the approach, not only to attract tourists, but also to attract new funds and to get feedback from local residents.  Even the floods and landslides witnessed on the day of the tour were seen as opportunities to show the importance of proper forest management.

Other business

17.    In closing the workshop Mr. Gschwandtl again thanked the participants and speakers for their roles and he again invited the participants to be active in the PR Team and to help extend the network into their countries.  He extended a special thanks to the Forestry Extension Centre staff and the interpreters for their constant assistance throughout the week.

18.    In turn, the participants and secretariat thanked Mr. Gschwandtl and his staff for organizing and conducting the workshop.  They expressed appreciation for the generous sponsorship by the Austrian Federal Ministry for Agriculture and Forestry, without which the workshop could not have taken place.  And they also thanked the interpreters and the staff of the Forestry Extension Centre for their crucial roles.

Annex I

Participants of the workshop (including speakers)

Xhemal ZALA
Specialist in Forestry Service Directorate,
General Directorate of Forestry AL - TIRANA
Tel. +355 42 28 431 or 27924
Fax +355 42 28 431

Generaldirektion der Österreichischen Bundesforste
Marxergasse 2
A - 1030 WIEN
Tel. +43 222 71145 4593
Fax  +43 222 71145 4409

Head of Division
Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry
Forest Economics, Statistics and Public Relations
Ferdinandstrasse 4
A - 1020 VIENNA
Tel. +43 1 21 323 7307
Fax  +43 1 21 323 7216

Bundesministerium für Land- und Forstwirtschaft
Ferdinandstrasse 4
A - 1020 WIEN
Tel. +43 222 21 323 7302
Fax  +43 222 21323 7216

Andreas SCHWAB
Forstamt der Stadt Wien
Volksgartenstrasse 3
A - 1016 WIEN
Tel. +43 222 4000 97 922
Fax  +43 222 4000 99 97 922

Professor, Head of Forest Inventory &
Management Department
Belarus State University of Technology
Sverdlova Street 13 a
220630 MINSK
Tel. +7 0172 27 22 54
Fax  +7 0172 26 08 11

Head, International Relations Department
Committee of Forests at the Council of Ministers
17 Antim I Str.
BG - 1303 SOFIA
Tel. +359 2 987 97 92
Fax  +359 2 981 37 36

Head, Coastal Forest Reconstruction Project
Forest Research Institute
Dept. of Forest Typology
Streljacka 1
HR - 10 000 ZAGREB

Faculty of Forestry
University of Zagreb
Svetosimunska 25
HR - 10 000 ZAGREB
Tel. +385 1 230 2288
Fax  +385 1 218 616

Redaktion Profi-Erfa
Huyad leijtö 10
Tel. +36 1 274 4391
Fax  +36 1 274 4083

Deputy Director General
Forest Management Planning  Service
  of the Ministry of Agriculture
Széchenyi u.14
Tel. +36 1 132 3911
Fax  +36 1 112  6112
E-Mail   [email protected]

Deputy Secretary of State
State Forest Service
13 Janvara Str. 15
LV - 1050 RIGA
Tel. +371 722 66 00
Fax  +371 782 03 77
E-Mail    [email protected]

Head of Research, Training & Foreign
  Relations Department
Ministry of Forestry
Gedimino Ave 56
Tel. +370 2 611 785
Fax  +370 2 612 178

The Former Yougoslav Republic of MACEDONIA
Associated Professional
Statistical Office of Macedonia
"Dame Gruev" 4
91000 Skopje
Tel. +389 91 114 904
Fax  +389 91 111 336

Ioan-Ovidiu CRETU
Technical Director
National Institute of Wood
Sos. Fabrica de Glucoza, N.7
Tel. +40 1 240 76 35
Fax  +40 1 240 79 85

Alexandru PAVEL
Manager of Logging & Forest Road Department
National Institute of Wood
Sos. Fabrica de Glucoza, N.7
Tel. +40 1 240 76 35
Fax  +40 1 240 79 85

Jaroslav SALKA
Forstliche Forschungsanstalt in Zvolen
Masarykova 22
960 92 ZVOLEN
Tel. +42 855 32 03 16/18
Fax  +42 855 32 18 83

FAO/UN-ECE Secretariat
Forest Products Marketing Officer
Palais des Nations
Organisation des Nations Unies
CH - 1211 GENEVE 10
Tel. +41 22 917 28 72
Fax  +41 22 917 00 41
E-mail  [email protected]

Annex II

List of materials distributed at the workshop

AUSTRIA Folder with agenda, list of participants "Dos Verhältnis Zwischen Wald und Offentlichkeit" by Sabine Neumann "Wälder für die Zukunft" by Bundesministerium für Land- und Forstwirkschaft" (BMLF) "Staatspreis für Land- und Forstwirtschaft:  Auszeichung von Betrieben mit beispielhafter Waldwirtschaft" by BMLF "Der Wald - das grüne Herz Österreichs" (The Forest - the green heart of Austria) by BMLF (in pamphlet and booklet) "Staatspreis für beispielhatte Waldwirtschaft 1995" by BMLF Group photo List of participants "The Federal Forestry Training Centre Ossiach" info sheet "Forstliche Ausbildungsstäte Ossiach:  Kursprogramm 1996" Karnische Region folder "Guide to the many facets of Carinthia" "Lesachatal:  Europas natorbelasseustes, umweltfreundlichates Urlavbstal" "Lesachtdler Baveralaclen, Maria Luggau" "Lesachatal:  Alpentrlkebniswanderweg.  Kraft-quelle radegund"

FAO/ECE Team of Public Relations Specialists in the Forest and Forest Industries Sector
"Communications strategies in forestry and the forest industry sector" also known as the "PR Toolkit"
"Public relations in the forest and forest industries sector:  Meeting of team of specialists" in Gmunden, Austria, 1996

Forests and Forestry in the Republic of Belarus

"Öffentlichkeitsarbeit in Bezug auf die Beratung in der slowakischen Forstwitschaft" (national report)
Forest Research Institute Zvolen
Severoslovenské Lesy Zilina
Forests in Slovakia (brochure)
Forests in Slovakia (video)

"Forest and the Forestry Sector in Mass Media in Latvia" (list of journals, newspapers, periodicals)

"Nationale Strategie für Erhaltung des Waldes und Förderung der Forstwirtschaft der Republik Bulgarien" by Ministerrat der Republik Bulgarien, Komitee für Forsten

"Forestry in the Republic of Macedonia" by Statistical Office of the Republic of Macedonia
"Macedonia - facts and figures"
"Macedonia basic economic data" by Statistical Office of the Republic of Macedonia

"Public relations in forestry and forest industry in Romania" by National Institute of Wood by Messrs. O. Cretu and A. Pavel

"Profi Erfa" by Stefan Fonagy (editor) (trade journal)
Graphics/illustrations from Mr. P. Csoka's presentation on "Cooperation in forestry in CITs