• Securing land tenure for the Bagyelis

    29 March 2018
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    Communauté Bagyeli du village Akok

    In 2000, the World Bank approved the pipeline project between Chad and Cameroon. Its implementation however, had consequences on the lives of communities along the pipeline. Some of the environmental and social impacts which have continued since the construction phase, have led to the matter being referred to the advisor of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a branch of the World Bank Group involved in financing the private sector, which provided support to the project. Mediation has begun between the Cameroon Oil Transportation Company S.A. (COTCO), which is the company in charge of construction, operation and maintenance of the pipeline, and the communities affected by the activities, supported by the following NGOs, including CV4C project partner CED, as well as RELUFA, CARFAD, and FOCARFE.

    In line with its objective to promote good governance of natural resources and the protection of the rights of local and indigenous communities, CED supports communities in this mediation process. The CED has made its mediation experts available to the communities involved. One of the complaints raised concerns the infringement of land belonging to the Bagyeli indigenous communities, in the Ocean Division. Mediation on this matter has resulted to a decision taken by COTCO and the FEDEC Foundation (put in place by the project to support indigenous Bagyelis and finance environmental compensation resulting from the project) to help the Bagyelis secure access to the land. Through analysis of the land tenure processes implemented, CED ensures that activities take into account the habits and customs of the Bagyeli communities, and above all, contribute to the improvement of their living conditions.

    It is worth mentioning that communities affected by the project, including those who lost their land and crops, received both financial and in-kind compensations. Indigenous communities were excluded from these compensations because they did not have titles or customary land rights. The seriousness of their land situation calls for urgent action, and FEDEC has selected the NGO APED to lead the process.

    Flora LAMERO
    Communications Officer
    Centre pour l’Environnement et le Développement (CED)

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  • New FLEGT Watch application to provide a satellite-based forest warning system in Central/West Africa

    26 March 2018
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    Satellite

    CIDT, through its CV4C project, is joining forces with Visioterra and Tropenbos to develop an innovative tool to be used in several countries of Central and West Africa to monitor illegal logging and other forms of forest cover change. However, cloud cover is a major obstacle for optical instruments limiting real-time monitoring of tropical forested regions, including many parts in Central and West Africa. Consequently, there are information blind spots for users, including decision makers, which creates opportunities for illegal logging hotspots to arise and persist.

    The system named “FLEGT Watch” will overcome the problem of cloud cover through the use of radar based satellite images enabling users to detect changes using the latest satellite maps and information on land use, forest cover, fires, and hydrology. FLEGT Watch, using synthetic-aperture radar will disseminate visual and geo-referenced alerts that can be received on tablets and smartphones, enabling forest watch communities to enhance their performance.

    FLEGT watch

    FLEGT Watch in a nutshell:

    • Systematically analyze data from Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2 satellites
    • calculate bio-geophysical indices related to the forest (biomass, leaves, vegetation, humidity …),
    • automatically detect the changes of values ​​of these parameters in the satellite image just acquired,
    • send notifications of change (s) or alarms to observers in their areas of interest,
    • embed satellite data, maps and images in a field application and / or on smartphones,
    • allow to find evidence (photos, measurements, comments …) in-situ and to share them in the network of observers and beyond,
    • provide dashboards of observed changes and their monitoring by observers,
    • publish reports on all observations or a particular observation,

    Next Steps…

    A first version of FLEGT Watch will be delivered in May 2018. The final version will be delivered in October 2018. Training will be provided to independent observers from the 8 Central and West African countries.

     

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  • Project partners meet to share lessons from 2017 and plan the coming year

    13 March 2018
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    CV4C project planning meeting in Bangui

    CIDT facilitated a four day project planning meeting for the coordination of the EU-funded project ‘Citizen Voices for Change (CV4C)‘. The meeting took place from 26 February – 1 March 2018 in Bangui, Central African Republic, hosted by ‘Centre pour l’Information Environmentalle et le Developpement Durable’ (CIEDD).

    The meeting was split into sessions programmed to address instrumental aspects of the project and to allow for partners to be reflective, and amongst critical friends deliberate methodology and strategies.

    This participatory, reflective and instructive design of the workshops enabled project partners to incorporate lessons learned into their 2018 project action plans.

    On the first day the floor was given to each of the partners to present their 2017 project accomplishments, covering targets and activities achieved, challenges, limitations, and lessons learned.

    The aim of the following two days was to review current methodologies, strategies and tools adopted by partners regarding organisational development and Independent Forest Monitoring.

    The final day culminated in the presentations of action plans and budgets newly informed by the extensive discussions and lessons learned from the previous three days.

    The nature of this deliberative meeting is a prime example of knowledge sharing and experience exchange that the CV4C project promotes. Project partners are sector-leading organisations in their respective countries; they champion project working values to instigate organisational adoption from peer organisations, making for a more efficient and effective network of non-state actors contributing to an overarching sector goal.

    The meeting brought together project coordinators and technical members from each project partner in the five project countries: FLAG, FODER, CED (Cameroon); OGF (DRC); Brainforest (Gabon); CAGDF (RoC); and WRI (USA). Find out more about the CV4C partners.

    This annual meeting marks the beginning of year 2 of the four year project that aims to strengthen the contribution of non-state actors (NSA), such as civil society (CS), Indigenous Peoples (IP) and community organisations, to improving forest governance, sustainable forest management and the contribution of forests to development in five Congo Basin countries.

    Photos from the workshops

    CV4C project planning meeting in Bangui

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  • Forest governance actors in Gabon improve proposal writing and project design skills

    28 February 2018
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    Brainforest proposal writing training

    From 19- 22 February 2018 in Libreville, sixteen civil society representatives, including four from the forest administration and Technical Coordinating Committee (CTC), undertook training on project design and writing funding proposals. These stakeholders, who directly or indirectly work on issues of forest governance, came together for a four-day workshop organised by Brainforest as part of the CV4C project in Gabon.

    The training was very focused and was based on a set of presentations, group work, direct interactions between participants and a case study, enabling participants to make better use of some basic tools and methodologies for project development as well as writing funding proposals. These tools included the Results-Based Management grid, Problem and Objective trees, stakeholder and risk analysis, as well as logical frameworks and more.

    One of the trainers, Dr. Aurelian Mbzibain, noted, “If members of the platform are trained in project development, this will allow the platform to mobilise the necessary resources to enable its members carry out actions to support forest governance in Gabon. At times, NGOs do not have access to funding and therefore develop activities that aren’t executed. This training provides the tools and skills needed for more effective project development and increased success in securing project funding “.

    Participants were mainly from the ‘Gabon Ma Terre Mon Droit (GMTMD)’ platform, the Administration in charge of Forests and the Technical Coordinating Committee (CTC). They have gained knowledge of the subtleties of proposal writing that can attract the attention of donors.

    The training was found to be very practical, as suggested by most of the participants.  Below are views from some participants:

    “I was very satisfied with the organisation, the pedagogical methods and the competence of the trainers. All these elements combined, allowed us to acquire knowledge and develop skills and abilities that can now be used to set up projects for our various organisations. Four days may be insufficient for such training. It may be advisable to increase the number of days in future training programmes.” Charles Moubeyi, from the NGO MUYISSI ENVIRONMENT.

    “This was an opportunity for me, as I have not yet had the chance to participate in or develop a project. I discovered the different aspects that constitute the outline of writing a project.  What I now need in the long run is to practice and master the process of developing a project.”  Sylvana Laura Ntsame Nguema, from Agence Nationale d’Exécution des activités Filière Bois

    This capacity building workshop complements others that have been delivered as part of the CV4C project, including such as – Organisational Development, Independent Forest Monitoring, Gender mainstreaming in Forest Governance, Financial Management and more. These have all benefited project partner Brainforest and other non-state actors in Gabon involved in the process of improving forest governance.

    Photos

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  • Cameroonian civil society organisations equip themselves to monitor timber supply chains

    26 February 2018
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    The five member organisations of the Standardised External Independent Monitoring System (SNOIE) have undertaken training on the techniques of investigation and monitoring of timber supply chains, from 69 February 2018. The training was organised within the framework of the ‘Citizen Voices for Change: Congo Basin Forest Monitoring Project (CV4C)‘ project.

    FODER, Papel, ASTEVI, SUHE and Cedla took part, along with three other organisations (CED, FLAG, TI-C), in a workshop which allowed them to improve their knowledge on disclosure of illegal activities observed in forest areas of the Eastern, Littoral, and  South regions of Cameroon.

    Laurence Wete Soh, CV4C Project Manager at Forêts et Développement Rural (FODER) said, “This training was organised with the aim of empowering participants to go beyond the forest in order to extend the area of ​​independent observation and we hope to be more effective in reaching targets beyond a national level. Our goal is to build a consortium of organisations that positively influence forest governance and law enforcement.”

    Over four days of training, civil society organisations (CSOs) were able to:

    • refine their knowledge on the various stages of timber management chain from the allocation of titles, logging, up to export or port of destination;
    • understand timber supply chain investigation techniques as well as the challenges and tips for overcoming obstacles;
    • master the collection of relevant information on the different stages taken by wood from forest to final point of sale, through processing and transportation, as well as to understand the documentation and communication of results from these investigations.

    The organisation of this training workshop comes at a time when a number of limitations have been observed in the approach used by civil society organisations in external independent observation (EIO) activities. So far EIO activities have been carried out in the forest, but it is often difficult to establish the link between activities observed in the forest and the destination of the wood.

    The challenges faced by civil society organisations involved in EIO are in the monitoring of the export supply chain, that is, from forest transportation to marketing. Due to documentation fraud and corruption, it is essential for CSOs involved in forest governance in Cameroon to adapt to the prevailing situation on the ground.

    The training was attended by an Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), a police commissioner and a head of forest control station. Members of the SNOIE coordination managed to put forward strategies for research and access to information, data processing, as well as to be up to date with reliable techniques of field and online investigations.

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  • Training on data management to lead to special issue of scientific papers on the governance of forest resources

    19 February 2018
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    In order to enable the staff of Forêts et Développement Rural (FODER), to produce quality research articles related to the governance of natural resources, a training workshop was organised from 30 January – 2 February 2018. This workshop was organised with financial support from the ‘Citizen Voices for Change: Congo Basin Forest Monitoring Project (CV4C)‘.

    The overall aim of this workshop was to equip FODER staff to deal with issues relating to data management (collection, processing, analysis and retention) in order to ensure effective downstream implementation of FODER’s new publishing policy.

    During the four days training, ten members of staff from the organisation were able to learn and master the fundamentals on:

    • elaboration of data collection tools in development projects;
    • data collection approaches including issues of research ethics;
    • data processing and analysis tools;
    • elements on the conservation of field data and the retrieval of data after a field mission or project.

    Roberteau TCHOFFO, GIS expert and beneficiary of the training commented, “the workshop allowed me to improve my knowledge of writing techniques for scientific articles. These skills will be used to help draft articles submitted during training recruitment.”

    In order to ensure achievement of the workshop aims and the realisation of publications, individual follow ups will be provided to participants by the training consultant. A special issue of articles produced by trained staff is expected to be published in the second half of 2018.

    This training is organised at a time when FODER is engaged in a process of improving its performance as a national civil society organisation. This training aims to improve the quality of data management and information generated by its actions and thus publications produced by the organisation. Capacity building of technical staff is therefore a necessity.

    Laurence Wete Soh, CV4C Project Manager at FODER said, “We are continuing work on the publishing policy, and in order for it to be operationalised, we have invited a consultant to help develop a module for capacity building of staff on the development of tools, collection and data processing, as part of interventions related to good governance and sustainable management of natural resources, including respect and rights”.

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  • Return to a widespread level of corruption in the forests and wildlife sector in Cameroon

    10 February 2018
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    Corruption Perception Index (CPI) in the forest and wildlife sector has considerably deteriorated in 2017. According to the CPI assessment study presented during a press conference, it has reached 7.25/10 in 2017, i.e. almost the initial assessment level carried out by the National Anti-Corruption Commission (CONAC) in 2017 which had placed it at 7.25/10.

    This CPI assessment, for the fourth time, was conducted by the association Forêts et Développement Rural (FODER) in the framework of the project Citizen Voices for Change (CV4C).

    CPI is one of the tools used to appreciate the intensity of a phenomenon in a given sector. In 2010, the National Anti-corruption Strategy wrote about this index for the first time in the forest sector.  Also, the assessment of this CPI is a contribution of FODER to the monitoring of the initiatives of promotion of good governance and sustainable management of forests in which the Cameroonian government is committed to.

    The Assessment of the Corruption Perception Index (ACPI) was carried out through interviews conducted in ten regions of Cameroon with 405 stakeholders of the sector, on one hand, from the forest and wildlife administration, justice, police forces, private sector, civil society, communities, local representatives, decentralized territorial units, other actors; on the other hand, analysis of data and information found in documents and various publications on the theme of transparency in the forest sector.

    According to the results of this 2017 assessment, 82% of actors of the forest and wildlife sector are involved in corruption and more than 52% of these actors pay at least 10.000 CFA francs per week in acts of corruption (Talla et al.2017). Thus, from simulations, and if we take into consideration the people interviewed in the framework of this assessment, we notice that the phenomenon of corruption in this sector causes the State to lose more than 797 million per year.

    The victims of this phenomenon are mostly found in families of actors of forests and wildlife sector. However, the most exposed are the local and indigenous communities (31.1%) and actors form the private sector (20.75%). While the principal authors of this corruption practices are the holders of a share of state authority.

    With this vertiginous increase of CPI in the forest and wildlife sector in 2017, it is clear that anti-corruption initiatives carried out are both inadequate and ineffective. The same is seen in initiatives implemented by the civil society that has not succeeded in sustainably reducing the impact of this phenomenon according to respondents in the framework of the 2017 ACPI. This situation is due, among other things, to the low level of transparency in the forest and wildlife sector. Indeed, the 2017 ACPI results show that majority of actors involved in the forests and wildlife sector are not aware of information and official documents required in their activities, and also on the procedures for obtaining them. And among the other causes of the inefficiency of these initiatives are impunity, the passivity of the government and withdrawal of technical and financial partners. Without being exhaustive, they alternately suggested.

    To all stakeholders:

    • Strengthening cohesions between existing anti-corruption initiatives in the forest and wildlife sector
    • Advocating for the reduction of interventions in the sector: The forest and wildlife sector is a junction of several and sometimes contradictory interests.

    To the Government, namely MINFOF, CONAC and other interested administrations:

    • Diagnosing anti-corruption initiatives carried out between 2010 and 2017 in the forest and wildlife sector, then proposing a related action plan.
    • Publishing on a regular and timely basis all the information referred to in Annex VII of the VPA FLEGT, as well as specifying the costs for obtaining the operational documentation.
    • Implementing as part of the fight against corruption, on a regular and holistic basis, such mechanisms established to prevent, educate and urge to fight against corruption and mostly take exemplary and deterrent sanctions against the authors of corruption.

    To the civil society:

    • Improving approaches to sensitize the stakeholders who are most corruption-prone:
    • Reactivating mechanisms which protect those who denounce and which ensure legal and judicial assistance to the victims of corruption:
    • Carrying out a study on the costs of corruption in the forest and wildlife sector: Such a study would enable to update existing ones based on appropriate and relevant methodology.

    To the technical and financial partners:

    • Integrating and recording fight against corruption as a priority objective of international environmental and climate policies, and mobilizing subsequent resources to achieve this objective
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  • Civil society capacity building workshop on monitoring non-forestry investments in the forest sector in Gabon

    15 January 2018
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    Brainforest atelier

    As part of the implementation of the Citizen Voices for Change: Congo Basin Forest Monitoring Project (CV4C), Brainforest organised a capacity building workshop for the “Gabon Ma Terre Mon Droit” platform on the monitoring of non-forestry investments in the forest sector. This workshop took place from 21 – 23 December 2017 in partnership with WWF.

    For almost a decade there have been large non-forestry investments made in the forestry sector in Gabon, including major infrastructure projects and agro-industries with the intention of increasing national wealth through job creation. Beyond the positive impacts, major investments give rise to several environmental and social challenges. In the light of this, it is necessary for civil society organisations and local communities to be equipped to monitor, in the same way as it would for forestry activities in the context of independent monitoring.

    The objective of the workshop was to provide CSOs with the necessary skills and tools for efficient monitoring of non-forest investments in the forest sector. At the end of the 3 days, participants:

    • acquired knowledge of the current state of non-forestry investments in the forest sector in Gabon;
    • learned about the main issues and challenges of non-forestry investments in forestry;
    • acquired skills and tools for independent monitoring of non-forestry investments in the forest sector;
    • acquired skills and tools to write reports on monitoring and to follow-up complaints.

    The workshop has been very useful for CV4C project partner Brainforest, contributing to achievement of results in their various projects in the forest sector, by developing approaches for monitoring forestry activities in the context of large-scale investment, such as mining, agro-business and infrastructure.

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  • Workshop in Republic of Congo explores support for forest monitoring platforms

    10 January 2018
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    Atelier CAGDF

    Atelier CAGDFA knowledge exchange workshop took place on 29 December 2017 in Brazzaville between CV4C project partner ‘Cercle d’Appui à la Gestion Durable des Forêts (CAGDF)’, and the following forest monitoring platforms:

    • ‘Plateformes pour la Gestion Durable des Forêts (PGDF)’;
    • ‘Cadre de Concertation REED (CACO REDD)’.

    The workshop was designed to enable these two platforms to become aware of the resources available from the CV4C project to support their actions, as well as identify gaps in CV4C/CAGDF’s implementation of Independent Monitoring (IM) in the Republic of Congo and discuss the feasibility and the procedure for implementing these activities.

    After a warm welcome from the Executive Secretary of CAGDF, the activities proceeded with introductions to the CV4C project and a brief history of the IM in the Republic of Congo.

    A key discussion took place around the many ways that the CV4C project can offer support, in the form of logistical or technical support for operation of the platform, as well as development of informational tools and a variety of targeted capacity building activities for various stakeholders.

    Subsequent discussions were very positive with regard to the support available, as well as future communication and collaboration between the platforms. A roadmap was conceived for the coming year to establish working groups, implement relevant capacity building and tools, as well as to address other key organisational issues.

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  • Report published covering highlights of illegal logging and trade conference

    5 January 2018
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    Interpol conference

    A summary report has been published giving an overview of the points raised and discussed at the regional conference on law enforcement and illegal logging in the Congo Basin. The event was held from 14-16 November 2017  at the Interpol Regional Office for Central Africa, Yaoundé, Cameroon.

    The aim of the conference was to initiate the dialogue between law enforcement authorities and civil society and provide an open space for discussion and exploration to address the shortfalls in the FLEGT and REDD+ processes for the different actors and going forwards, how the state and non-state actors can build mutual collaboration and trust to achieve rigorous and effective systems.

    The report gives a sort overview of each session along with feedback form participants on how the aims of the conference were met. It concludes that the conference has set the ball rolling to further explore these issues that are central to effective and successful FLEGT implementation.

    Key links

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