Alleged cases of illegal logging in the Sale of Standing Volume (VC) 070376, not legally allocated according to valid titles published by MINFOF on May 29, 2017, were observed in a recent whistle-blowing report produced by FODER, via the Standardised External Independent Observation System (SNOIE) procedures. Investigations presented in this report reveal that in the VC 070376, which covers the Mbandjock, Dingombi, Ikonde, Mapoubi and Ngwei 2 villages, the ETD company who is beneficiary of VC 0703302 have allegedly carried out logging activities outside the limits of its permit. According to the same report, five (05) logyards with a total volume of wood species estimated at 202.10m3were found in the non-allocated VC.
One of the logyards had an Ekop Beli log bearing the marks of the forestry company Eloungou Toua (ETD). These illegal logging activities fall under Article 158 of the 1994 Cameroon Forestry and Wildlife Law, which “ispunishable with a fine of between 3,000,000 to 10,000,000 FCFA and an imprisonment of between one (1) and three (3) years or only one of these penalties, if the perpetrator falls under any of the following offenses (…) unauthorized logging in a national or communal forest, in violation of articles 45 (1) and 46 (2) above, without prejudice to damages and interest on exploited timber, as provided by article 159 below (…)”.
SNOIE Coordination/Forêts et Développement Rural
Tel : +237 222005248. Email : email@example.com. BP : 11417 Yaoundé-Cameroun
From December 2017 to May 2018, Cameroonian civil society organisations, who are members of the Coordination of the Standardised External Independent Monitoring System (SNOIE), conducted a total of five External Independent Monitoring missions, aimed at reporting alleged cases of illegal logging in the national forest domain, as well as those covered by legally assigned titles.
These missions were carried out in the villages of Doumo-Mama (Messamena sub-division, Upper Nyong division in the East Region); Bidi (Ngambè-Tikar sub-division); Ngoum, Ina, Manja, Wassaba, Oue and their surroundings (NgambéTikar and Yoko sub-divisions, Mbam-et-Kim division in the Centre Region); Mbandjock, Dingombi, Ikonde, Mapoubi and Ngwei2 (Ngwei and Pouma sub-division, Sanaga Maritime division in the Littoral Region of Cameroon); Makoure I and its surroundings (Lokoundje sub-division, Ocean division in the South Region of Cameroon).
The resources required to carry out these missions were raised within the framework of ‘Citizen Voices for Change: Congo Basin Monitoring Project (CV4C)’, implemented with the financial support of the European Union (EU) and other project partners.
During this six-month period, reports were produced by the following organisations: Forêts et Développement Rural (FODER), Support Programme for Livestock Production and Conservation of Biodiversity in Protected Areas of Cameroon (PAPEL) and the Centre for Alternative Local Development (CeDLA). During these investigations, several offenses were reported:
- Non- compliance with logging technical standards, as well as non-compliance with the terms of reference;
- Exploitation beyond limits;
- Non-compliance with logging standards;
- Fraudulent documents outlining logging operations;
- Exploitation by sales of cut in a national forest domain beyond the cut-off limits;
- Unauthorised exploitation in a national forest domain.
Twenty stakeholders from the forest and environment sector met at a workshop that began on 03 July 2018 to assess the level of transparency in this sector. The workshop organised by Forêts et Développement Rural (FODER)as part of the ‘Citizen Voices for Change: Congo Basin Forest Monitoring project (CV4C)’, implemented by a consortium of organisations in the Congo Basin, under the coordination of CIDT with financial support from the European Union and other project partners.
The workshop which ends on 04 July 2018 is intended, among other things, to present preliminary results of the study on forest and environmental transparency, initiated at the end of 2017 and aimed at developing a framework for analysing transparency in the forest and environment sector, as well as to appreciate efforts made in terms of forest and environmental transparency in Cameroon; the current state of transparency in the environment sector in Cameroon with a focus on transparency in the REDD+ process. Participants in this workshop come from the relevant sectoral authorities, civil society, private sector, research as well as technical and financial partners.
During the two days meeting, participants will be updated on the implementation of the FLEGT VPA Annex 7, including challenges and lessons learned as well as learning from experience and transparency in the REDD+ process in Cameroon.
From 19-22 June 2018, around 15 CSOs implementing Independent Monitoring (IM) in the Congo Basin are once again meeting to address the issue of illegal logging. This phenomenon which increasingly affects forest management in the sub-region requires further attention. This Institutional Strengthening workshop of the regional platform of these CSOs took place in Douala, organised by FLAG as part of the implementation of the CV4C project. The meeting aims at strengthening the position of the regional IM platform as a more professional, credible and effective advocacy body.
Horline Njike, General Secretary of FLAG, in her introductory remarks said: “The sub-regional CSO platforms that implement IM want to work together to rally against illegal exploitation of natural resources in the Congo Basin. To this end, we intend to coordinate our actions in the region, and speak with a common voice so that we can be heard by the national and international community, in order to put together policies to change and improve the way natural resources are currently managed and exploited.”
For this purpose, IM experts of the Congo Basin will meet for four days to develop shared regional references on IM, taking into account existing methodologies and tools, and consider potential options to mobilise resources and ensure the sustainability of IM in the Congo Basin.
It is worth noting that, whether mandated or not, IM faces a number of challenges on a regular basis such as: access to information, conflictual relations with the forestry administration and the private sector, to name a few. This occurs despite the undisputed fact that IM is increasingly recognised as an effective tool in the fight against illegal logging in forest-rich African countries. However, much work remains to be done.
An information sharing and reflection workshop on the synergies of forest and climate processes in Cameroon has taken place and resulted in the production of a concept note by the participants, detailing ideas for strengthening synergies between forest and climatic processes (FLEGT, REDD, CDN). In this downloadable note, participants make recommendations to stakeholders in these different processes to take concrete actions to strengthen stakeholder participation and coordination.
The workshop was organised by Forests and Rural Development (FODER) as part of the project ‘Citizen Voices for Citizens for Change: Forest Monitoring in the Congo Basin (CV4C) project’, implemented with the financial support of the European Union (EU) and project partners.
The workshop aimed to enable stakeholders from REDD+, VPA-FLEGT, AFR100 and CDN to discuss synergies between these processes and to formulate proposals for greater transparency, participation and coordination.
Recommendations can be found in the downloadable paper:
As part of the activities outlined in its action plan for 2018, CIEDD through the project ‘Citizen Voices for Change: Congo Basin Forest Monitoring (CV4C)’, conducted a mandated IM mission from 24 May to 02 June 2018 with the management and exploitation permits (PEA) n ° 164 of the company Thanry Centrafrique (TCA) in Bamba and n ° 175 of Société Forestière de la Kadéi (SOFOKAD) in Dédé Mokouba, respectively within the Sangha M’Baéré and Mambéré Kadéi sub-division in the south-west of CAR.
The purpose of this mission is to verify compliance and enforcement of the CAR Forest Law based on Principles, 4, 5, 6 and 8 of the FLEGT/VPA legality matrix (Annex 1).
To be more specific, the mission aimed at (i) collecting and analysing information related to the logging activities of Thanry Centrafrique and SOFOKAD companies by referring to the principles, criteria and indicators of the VPA legality grid identified and (ii) ) making appropriate recommendations to improve observed situations.
Progress of the mission
- Members of the mission: The mission team consisted of four (4) Independent Civil Society Observers and two (2) Officers of the Ministry of Water and Forest.
- SOMBO Sylvère, Legality Research Officer at the Permanent Technical Secretariat (STP), Head of Mission ;
- YANGUERE Julien, Senior Officer at the ministry of forest ;
- Laurent YANGUETA, Project manager CV4C
- Marien Paterne YAKITE, Expert IM-FLEGT CV4C
- Josias NDEWA ZENETH
- Kévine Juvenale ZANRE
Duration of the Mission
The mission lasted 10 days in the selected PEAs (24 May to 02 June 2018).
The mission was led by the Forestry Administration, assisted by Independent Monitors. On the basis of selected indicators, the team collected all documentation concerning companies to be visited. After reviewing the documentation, information was collected at both the sites and park levels. The team also had discussions with staff and communities around the sites as well as meetings with local authorities.
As a result, information related to the logging activities of Thanry Centrafrique and SOFOKAD in relation to the selected VPA principles, criteria and indicators were collected and are being processed. This information will be compiled in a report.
The main challenge encountered by this mission is the road conditions that makes it difficult to access certain planned sites.
Progress Report: Presentation workshop of the first Mandated Independent Monitoring (MIM) experiment in CAR
Background and Rationale
A presentation workshop of the first Mandated Independent Monitoring (MIM) experiment in CAR as well as an orientation of the Reading and Validation Committee (RVC) Mission Reports was held on May 23rd 2018 at the Stadium in Bangui, as part of the implementation of the sub-regional project ‘Citizen Voices for Change: Congo Basin Forest Monitoring (CV4C)’.This workshop was chaired by Mr. KAÏMBA Barthélemy, Head of Mission at the ministry of Hunting and Fisheries, acting as personal representative of the Director of Cabinet at the Ministry in charge of forest. The objective of this workshop was to give a new direction to the functioning of the RVC by presenting the first MIM experiment in CAR and to draw new Guidelines that will allow this mechanism to effectively carry out its function.
The workshop was attended by all representatives of forest governance stakeholders in CAR. A total of thirty-two participants took part in this workshop and four (4) presentations were made during this event.
They are as follows:
- Presentation of the first MIM experiment in CAR;
- Presentation of MIM Opportunities in CAR;
- Presentation of the Guidelines;
- The partnership between government and civil society in the implementation of IM in CAR – Government analysis.
The above were followed by discussions and recommendations.
The opening ceremony of the workshop included two speeches, one from the CIEDD Coordinator, Mr. Jean Jacques U. MATHAMALE and the other from the Head of Mission at the ministry of Hunting and Fisheries. In his speech, the CIEDD Coordinator recalled the brief history of Independent Monitoring in CAR, based on the development of the National Independent Monitoring Strategy Paper, the training of the 12 Independent Monitors, and the funding obtained from FAO, which made the operationalisation of the IM possible. In addition, the establishment of the WG-IM and the RVC, the two mechanisms responsible for working on the report before publication were put in place by a ministerial decree. All of these elements made it possible to carry out three missions, during which published reports were analysedto facilitate exchanges.
It should be noted that analysis of these reports revealed weaknesses in the functioning of the RVC, the WG-IM and the non-follow-up of recommendations made in mission reports that were validated by the RVC. In conclusion, it must be noted that there were mixed overall results of these activities, reason why the CV4C project took over to correct weaknesses resulting from exchanges with stakeholders.
Speaking in turn, the Head of Mission at the Ministry of Hunting and Fisheries , acting as representative of the Director of Cabinet at the Ministry in charge of forest, in his speech highlighted the objectives by presenting the guidelines of the RVC, which were developed by the civil society for stakeholders before seeking their views on these guidelines. He also congratulated the CSOs members of the GDRNE platform in general and the CIEDD in particular for their collaboration with the administration in charge of forest and the efforts made to contribute towards the improvement of forest governance in CAR.
The workshop was suspended after the two speeches and only resumed after a group photograph.
Upon resumption, a workshop office was set up and consisted the following:
- A Chairman : Mr. KAÏMBA Barthélemy (Representative of the ministry)
- Rapporteur : Mr. LIMBAYA Michelin (Assistant CP CV4C)
- Rapporteur: Mr. NGOBO Emery
After reading the programme of the workshop, a methodology to move all presentations ahead of discussions and recommendations was adopted. The first speaker then had the opportunity to make his presentation on:
- The first Mandated Independent Monitoring experiment (Speaker: Mr. NDEWA ZENETH Josias)
- Opportunities of Mandated Independent Monitoring (Speaker: Mr. YANGUETA Laurent)
- Working Group Guidelines for Independent Monitors (WG-IM) and the Reading and Validation Committee (RVC) (Speaker: Mr. Jean Jacques U. MATHAMALE)
- The partnership between government and civil society in the implementation of IM in CAR – Government analysis. (Speaker: Joseph Desire MBANGOLO)
Key questions asked
Opportunities for questions and contributions were made available.
- ALAFEI (Coordinator of the Implementation and Verification Unit for FLEGT Authorisations): Regarding the first presentation, it would be wise for the speaker to specify the weaknesses of each actor.How many challenges will the different actors encounter?
- YAKINGA (NGO OCDN): Why did the administration not make a presentation on the first MIM missions?
- NGOUGBIA Rosine (Private sector representative): Point 4 of the RVC Guidelines is a bit of a problem because as a private sector representative (Forest Companies) in this committee, it is not conducive to make recommendations to our own institution.
- BIKO (Chairman of the Independent MonitoringWorking Group): The Memorandum of Understanding will soon expire. Does the new project intend to renew it in order to allow the execution of MIM missions?
- MBANGOLO (Permanent Technical Secretary/FLEGT): If the administration fails to implement the recommendations of independent monitors, it is because there is a serious problem in the litigation department, as the current agents have difficulties in drawing up minutes.
After these questions, the Chairman gave the floor to the CIEDD coordinator Mr. Jean Jacques U. MATHAMALE to respond to concerns raised by participants.
For the CIEDD coordinator:
- The CAR has ratified the VPA. We are all actors and everyone must play their part.
- Point 4 of the RVC guidelines for forest companies is not a problem. We should not be afraid to make recommendations to our own institution because all we do is to improve forest governance in CAR and allow forestry companies to work legally.
- He continues: the problem of developing the VPs to follow-up at the level of the litigation department is a very important aspect. For this reason, the most immediate is to make a request to donors in order to seek funding to strengthen the capacity of these agents. He ended by saying: “Independent monitoring is a major outcome of the VPA for CAR and needs to be enhanced in the implementation of the VPA”
After the coordinator’s responses, the chair of the meeting gave the opportunity to Mr. NDEWA Josias to also provide responses to some questions.
According to Mr. NDEWA Josias, the weakness we are talking about concerns all the actors involved, namely the administration and civil society. Each of them has made no effort to follow-up on the recommendations of the MIM mission reports.
- Mr. ZAMA proposed the reformulation of the terms of the ‘guidelines’ by action clauses.
- Mr. BIKO suggested that the guidelines for the WG-IM at point six (6) should be worded as follows: The WG-IM should participate in missionspreparation as well as in the support of IMs in missions.
After analysis and exchange on the document, participants unanimously made the following recommendations:
- Rename the guidelines by devolved missions
- Establish a mechanism at the Reading and Validation Committee level to follow up on recommendations from independent monitors reports;
- Undertake actions by the administration on the recommendations made in the reports of the three (3) Mandated Independent Monitoring missions carried out within the framework of the project IM-CAR2;
- Update the Ministry’s litigation monitoring structure;
- Revitalise the Reading and Validation Committee.
Following the above, the chair of the meeting thanked everyone who took part in the workshop and closed the meeting at 12.05.
The highlights in pictures
National multi-stakeholder round table on forest policy processes, the revision of the forest code and the lifting of the moratorium on new forest allocations in DRC
From 23 to 25 April 2018, CV4C project partner ‘Observatoire de la Gouvernance Forestière’ (OGF) organised a multi-stakeholder round table in the framework of the CV4C project. The event was organised in collaboration with Tropenbos DRC, UNESCO FLEGT Project, Forest Peoples Program (FPP) and the environmental civil society organisations in DRC with financial support from the European Union, the Netherlands, UNESCO FLEGT, FAO EU-FLEGT and civil society organisations.
This first edition of the National Multi-stakeholder Round Table covered the processes of expanding forest policy, the revision of the forest code and the lifting of the moratorium on new forest allocations in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
All stakeholders with the exception of the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development took part. In particular, the Ministry of Planning, Land Affairs/Conaref, Agriculture, Finance and Rural Development. Also in attendance were representatives of the Netherlands Embassy, the World Bank, the European Union, REDD National Fund (CAFI), international NGOs and academic institutions: WWF, WRI, UNESCO, Greenpeace, EFI , ERAIFT.
A working session on 16/04/2018 brought together the CIEDD team and the Water-Forest- INTERPOL Focal Point under the chairmanship of the Water-Forest Focal Point.
The purpose of this meeting is to analyse planned activities in the Water-Forest-INTERPOL Focal Point 2018 work programme, which should be included in the CIEDD Action Plan in line with the recommendations of the INTERPOL Regional Office for Central Africa.
The activities reviewed highlighted the following points:
- Some activities of the Yaoundé Action Plan which are taken into account in the CIEDD programme, targeted trainings and missions only.
- Funding of work materials will be the subject of advocacy with motivated external partners and nationals, as well as some state institutions;
- Follow-up of the special status document of the Agent of Water and Forest, falls under the competence of the Ministry of Water, Forest, Hunting and Fisheries;
- Funding for the project to fight illegal logging in CAR will be co-financed by the INTERPOL Regional Office for Central Africa with national funding;
- Extension of the forest code and its implementing decree will be negotiated with CIEDD in accordance with recommendations from the 2017 Yaoundé workshop.
Setting up the consultation platform with Interpol
This desired consultation platform will bring together about thirty members including representatives from the Ministry of Water, Forest, Hunting and Fisheries; the Ministries of National Defense, Public Security, Territorial Administration, Finance (Customs), Justice, Agriculture, Environment and Sustainable Development; the Presidency of the Republic, the Minister advising the Presidency on Natural Resources; of ISDR, National Assembly, the Anti-Corruption Committee, WWF, UNESCO, FAO, forest companies, tour operators, youth groups, NGOs, Religious Platforms and the Water-Forest-INTERPOL Focal Point Team (3).
The functions of this Platform are as follows
- Analyse claims made by civil society;
- Publish data on the fight against forest, wildlife and environmental crime;
- Support legal proceedings;
- Review data from Forest and Environmental Administration as well as other services;
- Seek funding for some planned activities;
- Seek partnerships at national and international levels.
- Operations of this platform will be managed by a coordination team which has a mandate of 2 years renewable.
- Ordinary meetings will be held once every 2 months. However, others may be held in case of an emergency.
- The meeting venue will be determined by the CIEDD in agreement with Water-Forest-Interpol Focal Point.
- The operating budget is acquired but the supplements will be sought.
- Materials will be that of the CIEDD, the Ministry of Water, Forest, Hunting and Fisheries as well as other entities.
- Of the 30 members of the consultation platform;
- Of the 20 staff of the Mobile Control Brigade (BMC) of Water and Forest;
- Of brigades staff and checkpoints in DR7;
- Of Regional Directors and Sub-divisional Inspectors;
- Specific training of focal points
Executing the mission
Missions within the country
Missions within the country will be in forest areas. There are planned joint missions. Initially, 8 Mandated Independent Monitoring (MIM) missions were planned. However, mandate of the Government tends to expire, thus requiring renewal. The consequence of this is a 2 months waiting period; if a mission is triggered by INTERPOL, such a waiting period will not arise.
The missions will be done in close collaboration with the CIEDD / CIDT and BMC on the funding of this Structure of which:
- The report of the Focal Point will be channeled to the Minister of Water, Forest, Hunting and Fishing as well as that of Environment and Sustainable Development;
- Summary reports of the Focal Point and the CIEDD / CIDT will be made by the consultation platform and actions to be undertaken in accordance with the adopted terms of reference.
Missions outside the country
Missions will always be in close collaboration with the CIEDD / CIDT, which represents the civil society on one hand and the financial partner on the other hand.
The process of seeking funding for a mission will be followed by these two institutions as soon as INTERPOL convenes a meeting in the sub-region.
The issue of acquisition of materials
Rolling stock, computers and other equipments will be subject to a search for funding from the Technical and Financial Partners through INTERPOL and national projects not included in its budget.
- The main risk is that of the insecurity situation in the country.
- Concerning the training of BMC staff, objectives may not be achieved in teams with high staff turnover, and both teams will have to be replaced in case of poor results.
The importance of Interpol
The contribution of INTERPOL has an advantage to the Ministry in particular, and the country as a whole, by supporting the Government’s capacity building in the fight against forest, wildlife and environmental crimes.
For the Water-Forest -INTERPOL Focal Point, not all activities will be funded by the CV4C project. However, advocacy will be made for complementary funding at INTERPOL level.
The consultation platform will be a very indispensable tool to support the Ministry in the fight against this phenomenon.
Project newsletter shows the great work and impact taking place in forest governance in the Congo Basin
The Citizen Voices for Change project is now entering its second year. This newsletter shows some of the activities delivered during the last quarter of 2017 and the first quarter of 2018 – from a full innovative, regional conference on illegal logging organised by the project in collaboration with INTERPOL, development of a radar based alert system for monitoring illegal logging in West and Central Africa (FLEGT WATCH), to important organisational development training for project partners and civil society organisations.
We thank all the partners and national stakeholders for continuous support and engagement and especially the European Union for funding support. We look forward to an even more successful project year in 2018.