CIDT through the EU-funded Citizen Voices for Change project participated in the Congo Basin Forest Partnership 17th Meeting of the Parties from 24–27 October in Douala, Cameroon. CIDT was represented by forest governance and monitoring experts Dr Aurelian Mbzibain and Richard Nyirenda.
Aurelian Mbzibain and Richard Nyirenda prepared a background paper on ‘How to address the lack of adequate regulation of the fast growing national and regional timber’. This was delivered in the ‘Forest Governance/Policy and Land Use’ stream of the meeting.
A presentation of the paper was made at the conference including another presentation looking at the challenges and issues for monitoring legality within domestic and regional timber markets in the Congo basin. More than 60 participants took attended the stream on Forest Governance, Policy and Land use stream.
CIDT’s contribution on this stream was critical in influencing some of the recommendations of the work stream. The relevant recommendations are;
- Recommendation 1: Develop a practical guide entitled “Technological decision-making tools for the Congo Basin” to guide users and practitioners based on the kind of information they search for. This practical guide will be unveiled at the next MOP and distributed to participants.
- Recommendation 4: Conduct, under the auspices of the COMIFAC General Secretariat, a feasibility study on the possibilities for the Congo Basin forest nations to adopt a tax incentive aimed at gradually formalizing the domestic wood industries. The findings of the study will be considered during a technical validation session that will take place during the next MOP.
CIDT will be involved in the implementation of Recommendation 1 through some of the applications and platforms that are being developed with partners through the CV4C project, namely FLEGT Watch, the Open Timber Portal (WRI), and OBSTER (CED).
The Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP) is a non-profit initiative to promote the conservation and responsible management of the Congo Basin’s tropical forests. The main objective of this partnership is to improve the management of natural resources and increase the standard of living in the Congo Basin. The CBFP now brings together 70 partners from governments, donors, international organisations, NGOs, scientific institutions and the private sector. Find out more about the CBFP Meeting of the Parties.
Below: The CV4C team give out information at the project stand.
CIDT, collaborating with the Interpol Regional office for Central Africa, delivered a 3-day workshop (14-16 November 2017) on law enforcement and illegal logging in the Congo Basin in Yaoundé, Cameroon.
The conference forms part of the EU funded project Citizen Voices for Change (CV4C) which aims to strengthen the contribution of civil society, indigenous peoples and community organisations to improve forest governance and sustainable forest management.
This conference, the first of its kind, brought together law enforcement authorities and non-state actors in the Congo Basin.
The main objectives of the workshops were to to explore how their different roles can serve to support each other, explore mechanisms for exchanging and sharing information and build mutual trust for collaboration to achieve their respective remits to improve forest governance and fight against illegal logging and trade.
An impactful agenda
Items on the agenda included:
- Update on Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs)
- The State of law enforcement, forest trade and forest crimes in the Congo Basin – an introduction to the law enforcement agencies in the region
- Civil society led forest monitoring in the Congo Basin, contributions to law enforcement – forest monitoring tools and methodologies
- Transparency and corruption in natural resources sectors in the Congo Basin – lessons learned from other illegal industries and activities concerning wildlife, fauna, drugs and human trafficking
- Looking beyond forest concessions
- Forest Control inspection and enforcement- who does what and how.
- Facilitated Session on Establishment of a forest law enforcement working group in the Congo Basin
- Bilateral meetings between law enforcement and civil society – Concrete plans for collaboration
Following two full days of presenting different methodologies, tools, collaborative partnerships and challenges with respect to the above agenda items, state and non-state actors came together to discuss and develop country-specific action plans addressing how they will work collaboratively to improve the response of law enforcement in the illegal timber industry.
The discussion period allowed for actors, who have never had the opportunity to sit before each other, to understand the challenges and constraints that shape one another’s capacity to achieve their organisational and industry aims.
The cross-sectoral discussions produced country and context specific action plans focussing on the integration of lessons learned from the conference and their day to day work.
Irrespective of these diverse country contexts, the actors representing the five countries* involved in CV4C have identified next-step actions that resonate across the region.
Commitment to action
Below are some of the proposed actions to be taken.
- Revision of the National Strategy for Forest and Wildlife Control (CAM)
- Create a multi-actor national databases on environmental crime and mechanism for maintenance including Independent Observer reports (CAM, CAR, DRC, GAB, RDC)
- Create an Independent Observer network at national level with mechanisms of sharing information (DRC)
- Strengthen the capacity of CSOs and justice at the provincial and local levels in the monitoring of forest activities (DRC)
- Broaden the number of actors in collaboration and partnership opportunities with the public authorities and law enforcement agencies including Interpol (CAM, GAB, RDC)
*The conference brought together participants hailing from the five project countries that form CV4C: Cameroon, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo, Gabon and Democratic Republic of Congo. Additionally, there were participants from Ghana, Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea, Belgium, USA, and France.
For further details and information about the sessions and to download the PowerPoint presentations please see the conference web page.
Photos from the event
Illegal logging in the Congo Basin: A regional workshop on law enforcement from 14th to 16th November, in Yaoundé
The purpose of this conference, organised in collaboration with the Interpol Regional Office for Central Africa, is to strengthen the contribution of non-state actors (civil society organisations, indigenous peoples and community organisations) to improving forest governance.
Improving forest governance, sustainable forest management as well as the contribution of forests to the development of the Congo Basin, is amongst the many goals of the Centre for International Development and Training (CIDT) of the University of Wolverhampton (United Kingdom), through the Citizen Voices for Change (CV4C) project and its international, regional and national partners.
In an attempt to strengthen the contribution of non-state actors (civil society organisations, indigenous peoples and community organisations) in this regard, a regional workshop/conference is being held on law enforcement from 14–16 November 2017, in Yaoundé at the Interpol Regional Office for Central Africa.
This conference is being carried out as part of the annual activities of the Interpol Regional Office for Central Africa, with the aim of bringing law enforcement authorities and civil society together, in order to share information on their different roles, explore mechanisms for information exchange and build collaboration and mutual trust in their efforts to improve forest governance, as well as to fight illegal logging and trade.
In terms of objectives, this will focus on developing joint strategies to fight forest crimes and related crimes; enhance the effectiveness of law enforcement agencies in the prevention and control of forest crimes; to promote national and transnational collaboration amongst different stakeholders, and also to strengthen the contribution of non-state actors (civil society organisations, indigenous peoples and community organisations) in improving forest governance, sustainable forest management as well as the contribution of forests to the development of the Congo Basin.
It must be noted that this workshop, the first of its kind, takes place in a context where forest and land use policies are exposed to corruption, illegal trade, but also to the crucial problem of transparency in the Congo Basin, all to the detriment of the indigenous peoples in part, and also resulting to huge economic losses.
See original article (in French) at Cameroon Info Net.
Article by Lore E. SOUHE • email@example.com • @loresouheCIN
Eight Cameroonian Civil Society Organisations (FODER, CED, FLAG, ASTEVI, ASD, FCTV, CAMINSUD, CRADIF, and CAMECO) have been equipped to integrate the gender approach in various actions related to forest governance and forest monitoring activities. Staff from different departments of these organisations have all taken part in training related to gender mainstreaming in the forest governance processes. The workshop, that took place from 26–29 September 2017, was organised as part of the “Citizens Voices for Change: Congo Basin Forest Monitoring project” (CV4C). This training was facilitated by consultant Mary Nyuyinui.
During three days the participants, including seven members of Forêts et Développement Rural (FODER) team, were able to harmonise their understanding of the concept of gender. Hervé Joël Mounpen, project manager at FODER explained, “Before taking part in this training, I had no idea about gender. I have learned that gender refers to the roles, responsibilities and opportunities socially attributed to men and women, as well as to the hidden power structures that govern relations between them. Simply put, gender is all that a man can do and everything a woman can do”.
Based on the fundamental principles of the gender concept, participants were able to understand that gender related issues bridge gender inequalities. These principles call for equality, equity and empowerment, which involve transforming the unjust structures of society to make them favorable and equitable for both men and women. Empowerment is about capacity building rather than coaching, mentoring and follow-up processes.
Based on the practical exercises, the 30 participants identified possible obstacles to women’s participation in forest governance. As such, the following obstacles were identified:
- Socio-cultural barriers
- The political level (exclusion, no gender distinction, ability)
- Ideologies and tradition
- Lack of financial and political commitment
- Lack of skills (education)
The facilitator shared gender analysis tools around these barriers which could be used to diagnose gender issues that may arise within the organisations. Gender analysis reveals links between gender relations and skills gaps that need to be solved. The expected results of this analysis are the improvement of gender equity between men and women, effective participation and the transformation of gender relations. Gender analysis in organisations should answer key questions such as, ‘who plays what role in the project?’, and ‘what is the role of gender?’
Gender analysis tools, such as the ‘triple role framework’ and ’24-hour work’ were shared with the learners. These tools make it possible to know the roles played by women and those played by men within an organisation.
At the end of the training, each participant made a commitment to put into practice the lessons learned. At FODER, ‘a gender minute’ has already been implemented during the monthly coordination meeting, which allows team members to share lessons learned with colleagues. FODER will continue the implementation with other organisations such as ASTEVI, during the 17th Coordination Meeting of External Independent Monitoring (RC-OIE).
Christelle KOUETCHA (FODER)
“As a result of this training on gender mainstreaming, I understand better the difference between gender in the form of equality and perceived gender in the form of equity. Moreover, the gender approach is more based on equity, thereby emphasising the capacity that men and women can have in terms of potential and equality of opportunity in society, but especially in the face of a specific problem, particularly in the improvement of forest governance in Cameroon.”
Willy Djanang, Lobbyist
“The training on gender has enabled me to identify gender concepts and processes for gender mainstreaming in forest governance through several tools developed during this training. We have developed our gender action plan and henceforth, our activities and plans will be subject to gender analysis and gender mainstreaming. I particularly liked the module on ‘Policy Analysis’ through which I was equipped on how to revise documents with a ‘scope’ on gender, in order to integrate gender mainstreaming. Furthermore, it would be desirable for the CSO capacity-building process to continue to include gender mainstreaming in any project cycle. We also wished that such trainings could enable participants to be equipped with the tools to develop a gender strategy.”
Angeline Modjo Kamdem, Forestry Worker
“The workshop on gender in forest governance was a real opportunity for me. I am a project manager at FODER and I admit that there are a number of realities that I did not sufficiently take into account in the implementation of REDEC (Reducing Deforestation in Cameroon by Strengthening Communities’ Rights and EU action) project. As I go through the prejudices and overtones of gender, I was able to correct the misconception I had. I have understood that the issue of gender makes it possible to develop equality of opportunity, taking into account all minorities, specificities for a good integration in projects and programmes. This is important for sustainable development. Also, gender refers to the quest for equity. I have especially learned how to read a ‘gendered’ working paper, which allowed me to review the logical framework of the project. By learning how to develop ‘gender sensitive indicators’, I have been able to realise that I can better integrate gender in the development of ToRs, the quality of participants during various trainings and consultations, as well as the writing of reports. Although I would have liked the issues of ‘gender sensitive budgets’ and gender involvement in project development to be addressed, I learned a lot from the workshop.”
Magloire Tene, Land Lawyer
“This training allowed me to better understand what gender is. This notion does not mean gender (biological difference between men and women), but takes into account the principles of equity and equality. ‘Gender’ is used to show that inequalities between men and women are not due to anatomical and physiological differences, but rather due to unequal and inequitable treatment in society. Equality refers to the fact that everyone (men or women of all categories or specificities) have the same rights and opportunities in a given situation or access to resources. Equity refers to justice and takes into account the different needs of men and women who can correct gender imbalances. Several gender analysis tools exist depending on the desired objectives. In order to apply them, it is necessary to separate each gender by categories, specificities and individuals. Each tool helps to better understand social differences and to ultimately foster change. It may be necessary to use more than one tool in some cases. Consideration of gender should take into account the specificities and social categories such as PA, youth, disability, illiteracy, etc.”
Christiane Zebaze Hellow, Environmentalist
“At the end of this training on gender mainstreaming in forest governance processes, I can say that it has been beneficial in many ways. It has allowed me to clearly identify concepts of gender stereotyping, particularly the difference between gender and sex. Also, a broad knowledge of the basic principles of the gender concept associated with obstacles related to the participation of women in forest governance has been learned. Finally, I have acquired a broad view of gender analysis tools and gender-sensitive monitoring as well as evaluation indicators.”
Hervé Joël Mounpen, Quality Control Specialist
Compiled by Christelle KOUETCHA (FODER)
Photo par Jane Goodall Institute.
Partners on the CV4C project are working together to test a new forest monitoring mobile app. Forest Watcher, has been developed by the World Resources institute (WRI). Forest Watcher is designed to allow easy, offline access to data about forest change on mobile devices in the hands of forest managers, indigenous communities and law enforcement anywhere in the world, regardless of connectivity.
WRI is working with project partner ‘Cercle d’Appui à la Gestion Durable des Forêts’ (CAGDF) to pilot the mobile app for forest monitoring. CAGDF is accessing satellite data in the app to identify areas of forest clearing occurring in and around timber concessions and verify if it is in compliance with VPA-FLEGT regulations and national and local laws.
They are also using the photo and customizable form feature of the app to collect information and data as inputs into their monitoring reports. Additionally, they are providing WRI with valuable insights as to how civil society forest monitors operating in other countries might best be able to integrate the app into their workflows, and with feedback that will inform and improve future versions of the app.
Forest Watcher links
- Read more about Forest Watcher.
- Download Forest Watcher app for free through the Apple Store or the Google Play Store.
- View tutorials on how to use the app.
The following video shows Forest Watcher in use
Gender is central to the CV4C project approach for more effective forest monitoring.
As such, CSOs active in forest monitoring in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), as well as members of the FLEGT and REDD + platforms were contacted in April 2017 and met in July 2017 to carry out a gender needs analysis in independent monitoring.
At the end of this consultation and gender analysis, a total of thirty non-state actors (NSAs), including 19 women and 13 men received training on the basic concepts underlying gender, tools and indicators in forest governance.
For more information on the subject, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Transparency of information along the timber supply chain is a fundamental prerequisite for combatting illegal logging and improving forest management in the Congo Basin. Without access to information and key documents, buyers and investors cannot demonstrate that they are sourcing legally-produced timber. Nor can producers prove that they are in fact following the rules.
The World Resources Institute (WRI) has a long-standing history of creating information tools in the Congo Basin forest sector. Our newest contribution is the Open Timber Portal, which builds on data collected by the National Forest Atlases in five Congo Basin countries (Cameroon, CAR, Congo, DRC and Gabon) and the Global Forest Watch partnership.
The Open Timber Portal is an independent web platform that promotes trade in legally harvested forest products by compiling information about forest sector compliance from government, private sector and Independent Forest Monitors (IFM) in producer countries. It aims to bring transparency to timber operations and supply chains by making available key information and documents about compliance with timber legality requirements and on-the-ground management practices. The Open Timber Portal compiles information from three different sources: official concession boundaries and operator information from the forest administration; documents uploaded voluntarily by companies to demonstrate legality compliance; and forest management observations by IFM. The Open Timber Portal was designed by WRI in consultation with a number of local civil society organizations, government agencies, companies, and industry associations. The Open Timber Portal serves IFM by improving their access to key company and government documents, helping them prepare and prioritize their missions. After the mission, the IFM are invited to enter their observations in the Open Timber Portal, along with evidence and reports. Each IFM has access to an online library where they can save and organize its reports and associated documentation.
In a time of proliferating web-based tools, why build another platform? The key contribution of the Open Timber Portal is to make more information available at the company level. Other tools often focus on the country level (such as the ETTF Timber Trade Portal, or NEPCon’s Sourcing Hub) or at the level of individual consignments (such as the BVRio Due Diligence Tool). In addition, the Open Timber Portal is the only platform that has been adapted to IFM needs.
While these tools play an important role in company due diligence research, the Open Timber Portal works directly with forest operators in the Congo Basin to voluntarily upload key documents about their company and concession management. The site draws the full list of registered operators in a producer country from the National Forest Atlas, and works with these companies to upload a set of documents defined as key indicators for compliance. Based on the percentage of documents shared, these forest operators are ranked in order of transparency. Traders and importers thereby have a user-friendly overview over all the forest operators producing timber in a country, and can quickly filter by additional criteria such as certification and existence of observations and the associated evidence from independent forest monitoring missions. The website levels the playing field: The portal does not assess or verify legality of operations, or recommend companies, but the Open Timber Portal does provide a free and publicly available tool facilitating due diligence for buyers. At the same time, the portal also provides forest operators with a marketing tool to promote their products, and to differentiate themselves from their competitors by instilling confidence in their operations. Finally, the tool serves as an opportunity for producer country governments to promote their national forest sector to import markets.
While the Open Timber Portal will initially focus on the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Congo, WRI is working on expanding the scope to other relevant timber producing countries, following first with Gabon and Cameroon. The portal will launch in fall of 2017. To sign up for updates or to participate in user testing, please visit the OTP website. For questions, contact Marie Vallee at email@example.com.
Figure 1: The operator page on the Open Timber Portal, highlighting the percentage of documents shared by the company.
Figure 2: The operator page on the Open Timber Portal, highlighting the number of observations of suspected non-compliance submitted by independent forest monitors.
In March 2017, CIDT conducted a workshop to train representatives from forest governance NGO implementing partners on the CV4C project.
The purpose of the workshop was to prepare participants to conduct a gender needs analysis of their institution and a gender and forest governance and monitoring analysis of their own countries (Cameroon, Central African Republic, Gabon, DRC and the Republic of Congo).
The workshop programme covered basic concepts and issues related to gender and forest governance and forest monitoring. The process of conducting a needs analysis was introduced and participants were given the opportunity to practice in local NGOs. Participants also learnt to conduct a gender policy analysis, as well as a national gender and forestry analysis. The workshop was highly participatory and provided many practice opportunities.
Grace Ollomo from partner Brainforest in Gabon attended the gender training: “We are a partner NGO to the CV4C project, and had not fully considered a gender perspective during the implementation of our activity. However, through this capacity building, gender issues will now be integrated into our activities regarding forest governance in Gabon.”
Since the workshop took place gender analyses have been successfully conducted in the five project countries in the Congo Basin. Two of the main needs identified by partners in all five project countries were for gender orientation training for their organisations and for the Forest Monitoring platforms; and support for developing their own gender strategies.
These identified needs are being met by a series of gender orientation workshops conducted in each country. The workshops will also introduce the development of gender strategies, which will be followed in 2018 by technical assistance from the Regional Gender Specialist to assist each implementing partner to develop their gender strategy.
A workshop on reflection and capacity building for journalists of the community radio networks on forest governance (RRACO –GF) and award winning journalists from the third edition of Forest Media Awards (ForMA), was organised on issues relating to the annual forestry tax (RFA) and corporate social responsibilities. The workshop took place from 21-24 August 2017 in Kribi, in the Southern region of Cameroon. This workshop was organised by the association ‘Forêts et Développement Rural’ (FODER) within the framework of the project ‘Voice of Citizens for Change: Congo Basin Forest Monitoring (CV4C)‘.This training was in line with one of the results of the CV4C project, namely improving the quality and availability of information from independent sources on compliance with legal standards in forestry and land tenure.
A total of 13 journalists took part in this capacity building session. The workshop allowed participating journalists from different parts of the country to enrich their knowledge through a study carried out by FODER on the management mechanisms of RFA, specifically the collection, decrease and management control of the annual forestry tax (RFA) in Cameroon. This study undertaken by FODER was shared with participants and should serve as a documentary source for the treatment of subjects related to RFA.
The training allowed media professionals to share their experiences on techniques for collecting and processing data on forestry issues, as well as benefiting from lessons on corporate social responsibilities as stipulated by the forestry law in Cameroon. Georges Emmanuel Tsayid, a member of RRACO-GF and award-winner of the radio category of the ForMA said:
“Thanks to these lessons, I can now better direct my investigations on social responsibilities, as I was able to learn the specifics of these Social responsibilities (SR). My colleagues and I were able to identify what can be considered as infringement in terms of SR”.
At the end of the workshop, journalists set up an information-sharing network. Through a WhatsApp group created for the beneficiaries, members have made commitments to relay information to one another. Giscard Bounga, the chairman of RRACO-GF said:
“We come from various localities, and as journalists practicing in forest areas, we will be able to provide our colleagues in urban areas with fresh information from the field. In turn, we will receive all decisions in the forestry field taken at the level of the urban governing bodies, so that we can share with those in our communities”.
Overall, participants appreciated the lessons learned during the training. Many participants said that they had enriched their vocabulary on forestry and journalistic issues. Some have made a commitment to use these assets to become more involved in investigations of RFA and corporate social responsibilities.
Feedback from participants
“The Kribi workshop was very rich in teaching for a journalist like me who is increasingly interested in the forest sector. I have learned a great deal, both on social responsibilities issues and on the annual forest tax (RFA). It is easier for me today to identify infringements as regards to social responsibilities and matters of companies’ specification. Through this training, I was also able to retrain myself, especially on the methodology of investigative journalism. Even though there is substantive field work to be done, we hope to be of great assistance towards its realisation.”
Ebenizer Diki, radio journalist at RTS
“The workshop held from 22 to 24 August 2017, in Kribi, in the Ocean division, South region of Cameroon, was for me a new experience as a journalist specialised in the field of health and environment. I was able to acquire and enrich myself on certain concepts which are in line with forest related issues. The workshop was a way of providing me with more insight into certain concepts, particularly with regards to the management and collection mechanisms, as well as to secure revenues. I have been able to find out about the advocacy currently being pursued by communities, including traditional leaders who have already begun talks with parliamentarians, government and diplomats involved in forest governance. The workshop allowed me to self-assess professionally, and instigated me to talk about forest governance issues. I am more curious to go to the field and point out some of the realities facing waterfront communities.”
Elise Kenimbeni, Journalist at Timenews.com
Author: Christelle Kouétcha, FODER
A two-week training course on the concept of Independent Monitoring (IM) was organised in Libreville, from 21 August to 1 September 2017. The training aimed to strengthening capacities of stakeholders in the field of forest governance monitoring through the use of independent monitoring tools and techniques.
Involving both a theoretical and practical phase, the training was delivered to members of a CSO platform called ʺGabon, Ma Terre Mon Droitʺ, Forestry Administration and the technical staff of Brainforest. As part of the CV4C project, the training took place with the support of partner FLAG, which provided IM experts to lead the workshops.
There were discussions on presenting the concept and tools of independent monitoring, in order to improve the technical capabilities of the administration as well as Gabonese civil society in the monitoring and management of forest resources.
The training involved two phases: theoretical and practical:
During the four days theoretical training, learners individually trained on the concepts of Good Governance, Forest Governance and Independent Monitoring. A presentation, followed by exchanges in the framework of the national implementation of IM in Gabon and the possible fields of monitoring, also helped to inform learners on the major phases during the implementation of an Independent Monitoring.
Trainees discussed the methodology for planning and carrying out an Independent Monitoring mission, punctuated by exercises in the transcription of geographical information as well as legal analysis of information.
Mrs. Rose ONDO of CURFOD attended the workshops, “this training is very useful for the Gabonese civil society, at the time when we face several burning problems that affect communities; these include issues of land ownership and land grabbing by agro-industries, as well as issues concerning illegal logging, where communities are sometimes complicit.”
Referring to the role of the civil society, she further said that “the first thing to do is to go to the communities with the knowledge and tools acquired during the training in order to sensitise and supervise them so that they can actually enjoy their rights, and be able to be a source of information for the civil society by denouncing abuses and irregularities. To this end, we need to equip ourselves to understand the rights of the communities in the various texts and laws. ”
The practical phase consisted of the preparation and carrying out of an independent monitoring mission in a forest concession with assistance of the central and local forestry administration and the concessionaire. The exercise was divided into three actions: documentary research, interviews and on-site observation.
Mrs Horline NJIKE BILOGUE MVOGO considered the context of the training, “Brainforest is a partner in the CV4C project and has requested training in Independent Monitoring (IM). It is in this context that FLAG has programmed this training to share its experience with the Gabonese civil societyʺ. According to Mrs Mvogo, “IM is this right of view that every citizen has concerning its environment. As a citizen of the Congo Basin, I have the right and the duty to express my views on natural resources management, simply because I am the first to be impacted when they are poorly managed. Through the IM, the Civil Society finds a concerted, coordinated and coherent means to intervene in the monitoring of the good management of natural resources; IM therefore appears to be an instrument that everyone can appropriate.ʺ
For more photos from this event view the Flickr photo gallery.