As more stakeholders in Africa get involved with forest and tree management for a variety of goals – economic production, positive interactions with agriculture, environmental services, etc. - the demand for relevant and reliable information and knowledge is growing. Achieving SFM in Africa is particularly constrained by poor access to relevant knowledge and technologies, partly because its current availability is fragmented, and suppliers and users extremely diverse. The situation is worsened by the fact that there are very limited knowledge products specifically targeted towards stakeholders outside the forestry profession (i.e. communities, farmers, rural entrepreneurs, etc.). In the absence of systematic and targeted management of, and access to, technical knowledge, projects and programmes are not learning from previous experiences. In addition, a significant amount of data and information used in Africa is accessed from sources outside the continent, and in many instances such data, information and knowledge are used as proxies in making decisions in Africa with the obvious result that there is often poor matches between technologies and needs.
Knowledge brokerage (KB) can play an important role in managing these gaps and in supporting stakeholders within and outside the forestry sector to access relevant and timely information. KB is broadly defined as a set of intermediary activities that link knowledge production and use. KB can range from making information more accessible and understandable to helping different actors develop a shared understanding of an issue. The intent is to help decision-makers acquire, evaluate and use expertise that they would not otherwise obtain or incorporate into their decision-making. The rapid developments in ICT offer an unprecedented range of possibilities for improved and more efficient and relevant KB, offering greater reach, more access and new technologies for storing, filtering and translating knowledge into new formats.
Delineation and goal of AFF’s work
In this thematic area, AFF will work on the collation, synthesis and provision of access to critical information and knowledge required by, and adapted to the unique needs of, various stakeholders in African forestry, as well as providing information to support decision- and policy-making for enhancing SFM at national, regional and continental levels. In addition, AFF will develop efficient tools to monitor and assess impact of its own and others’ programmes.
The overall goals are to: i) to build up and apply an effective system for generating, accessing and making available relevant knowledge and information, and, ii) to assess what impact AFF’s interventions have.
Examples of subjects, challenges and opportunities to be addressed
Gathering information; continuing process of gathering useful and relevant data of improved quality from concluded, on-going and planned projects and programmes, from both AFF’s own activities and those by other relevant actors; determine knowledge needs of Africa’s forest sector on an on-going basis and select relevant and reliable data and information that meet the needs of different actors; interconnect different international, regional and national forestry resources information systems to enable efficient ways of data access.
Disseminate information; analyse, disaggregate and make available in user-friendly form (adapted to different user groups, incl. non-forestry professionals) existing data, information and user-designed knowledge products; further develop and improve tools (IT, data-bases, media, publications, etc.) and capacities within AFF for dissemination of information; evaluate global, regional and national forestry financing opportunities and link them to stakeholders at relevant levels.
Impact assessment; develop effective tools and mechanisms to monitor, assess and follow up on uptake, outcomes and impacts of AFF’s products and services, and report to appropriate constituencies.
Examples of ongoing and/or concluded AFF activities that fall under this area
- A well designed and continuously up-dated and improved www-homepage (www.afforum.org) featuring entries like about AFF, vacancies, membership, publications, resource data-bases, partners, news and events, and others; the homepage has a steadily increasing number of visitors and users (in 2016: 75 000 visits by 11 000 unique visitors).
- All printed material generated by AFF (c. 150 to date) is freely available as downloadable pdf-files, including: Journal articles (30), policy briefs (19), factsheets (4), reports (20), AFF Working Paper Series (38), training modules (3), newsletters (16), meeting proceedings (1), books (3), compendiums (1), and corporate documents (10).
- In the last couple of years, AFF has systematically built up relations with TV-, radio- and printed media; a media database with c. 40 journalists has been built up to which news, information and commentaries are regularly sent; as a result, media coverage of AFF and its work on African forests has increased significantly