New FLEGT Watch application to provide a satellite-based forest warning system in Central/West Africa
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 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,
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.
CIDT staff Sarah Thomas and Richard Nyirenda have recently returned from Papua New Guinea where they were delivering a two week training course on ‘Improving Forest Governance’ as part of the EU/Birdlife International project ‘Strengthening Non State Actor Involvement in Forest Governance in Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Papua New Guinea‘.
The Papua New Guinea course was designed for staff and key local stakeholders of the national partner organisation ‘Tenkile Conservation Alliance’ (TCA) and was held at their remote base in Lumi, in the Torricelli Mountain range. TCA is doing groundbreaking work, combining conservation with community development, to protect the region’s rainforest and biodiversity, including critically endangered species such as the Tenkile and Weimang tree kangaroos.
The first week of the course, attended by 40 TCA staff and local and provincial government representatives, explored key governance concepts and challenges including strategies for ensuring greater involvement of civil society and communities in forest sector policy decisions. Topics covered included forest governance assessment, corruption, climate change and REDD+. Course participants also discussed the importance of effective multi-stakeholder processes at all decision-making levels, and reflected on ways to improve the representation of forest dependent communities, including through enhanced advocacy, influencing and networking.
The second week of the course was a Training of Trainers delivered to 25 TCA staff, including community outreach and research officers, supporting them in the design and delivery of tailored training inputs for other groups. Staff worked on the design of courses on climate change, water, sanitation and health, and good governance, adapting materials and methodology to target community audiences.
Photos from the course
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
CIDT forest governance and capacity building experts Richard Nyirenda and Des Mahony delivered a Forest Governance and Training of Trainers course in Indonesia, hosted by Burung Indonesia from the 4-15 September 2017. The two-week training course was held as part of an EU funded project coordinated by Birdlife International. The project is also implemented in Malaysia, Philippines and Papua New Guinea.
The training course involved participants from civil society, private sector (Ecosystem Restoration Concessions) and government (Ministry of Environment and Forestry – Forest Management Units). Learning was focused on building the skills and understanding of participants on forest governance,as well as the development and delivery of training programmes. During the course participants had the opportunity to develop innovative and collaborative responses to governance challenges in Indonesia. At the end of the course, participants developed individual action plans on how they will integrate the lessons learned into their day to day work. Topics covered during the course included:
- Drivers of poor forest governance
- Corruption and criminality in the forest sector
- Timber legality assurance systems (TLAS)
- Forest governance monitoring and assessment
- Multi-stakeholder processes
- Communication and Presentation skills
- Training Needs Assessments
- Training and Learning Methods
The training course was officially opened by the Director General for Sustainable Management of Production Forests in the Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Pak Djohan Utama Perbatasari. He highlighted that the training was critical in building the capacity of stakeholders in improving forest governance in Indonesia within the framework of both FLEGT-VPA and REDD+ and in supporting the Ecosystem Restoration Working Group to contribute positively toward the policy making process in Indonesia. Indonesia is the first country to issue FLEGT licenses since November, 2016.
Similar courses led by CIDT will be held in the Philippines, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea in the next few months.
With support from CIDT, the Faculty of Agronomy and Agricultural Sciences (FASA) at Dschang University has received funding from the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) to create new training courses in forest governance that will help to meet the EU-FLEGT (Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade) requirements.
Having helped to develop this project, CIDT will contribute as a technical partner along with another organisation, the ‘Pole of Support to the Professionalisation of the Higher Education in Central Africa’ (PAPESAC). The participation of the University of Wolverhampton is in line with the implementation of the joint letter of intent signed between the Dschang University and the University of Wolverhampton in June 2016 (pictured above).
Training in the areas of forest governance and the environment been a priority for some years in Cameroon, thanks to the numerous national and international development opportunities in these areas, particularly regarding the transition to a green economy. However, since the VPA (Voluntary Partnership Agreement) with the European Union was initiated in 2011, capacity strengthening activities have been targeted predominantly at civil society organisations. This alone will not meet the levels expected for VPA implementation and for creating a system of sustainable governance of forest resources in Cameroon. Therefore, there is still a need for training current and future professionals in the sector, a need which this project addresses.
FAO, CIDT and PAPESAC are supporting Dschang University in the development of three training programmes in the field of forest governance, which have potential to be extended to the whole Central African subregion. The programmes consist of:
- Ongoing training for current professionals, aimed at updating their skills in relation to emergent problems in the forestry sector;
- A transversal training programme for students from non-forestry related subjects, such as the sciences and social sciences, in order to extend the culture of governance and forest governance to other disciplines;
- A forest governance training programme for HE students undertaking environmental and forestry degrees in Cameroon.
These programmes will be directed by a multidisciplinary team of researchers and teachers at Dschang University and will help raise the quality of current and future professionals in Cameroon.
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.
As part of the framework of ‘Citizen Voices for Change: Congo Basin Forest Monitoring project’ in Gabon, a 20-day mission was initiated by Brainforest, beginning 16 July 2017. It took a general approach of presenting the project to stakeholders (territorial and technical administrations, local NGOs and local communities) to see what synergies could be developed during project implementation.
For ten days, the field mission team separately met with administrative and technical authorities, local communities of Cocobeach in the Estuary province, as well as those of Ngounié and Nyanga. These initial meetings led to a strong awareness of local communities on “the interest to act towards the protection of forests against the dangers of deforestation by their direct involvement in forest monitoring activities”. This outreach tour to promote awareness will continue within the provinces of Ogooué-Ivindo and Woleu-Ntem.
This initial mission, which culminates on 4 August 2017, and whose main action is to identify ways of collaborating with specific stakeholders, will make it possible to later identify priority areas for forest monitoring in Gabon. The ultimate goal being the attainment of “improving the quality and availability of information from independent sources on compliance with legal standards in forestry and land tenure”.
“Citizens Voices for Change: Congo Basin Forest Monitoring project” (CV4C), whose official launch took place on 24 April 2017 in Kinshasa, has been implemented thanks to financial support from the European Union, the World Resources Institute (WRI), as well as technical support of the CIDT of the University of Wolverhampton. This four-year project aims to strengthen the contribution of Non State Actors (NSAs), Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), Indigenous Peoples (IPs) and local communities – in Improving forest governance and sustainable forest management (SFM) within the five countries of the Congo Basin ( Gabon, Cameroon, DRC, and Republic of Congo).
The Chairman of the Somali Ecological Society, Mohamoud Ibrahim and the Head of CIDT, Professor Philip Dearden signed an important Memorandum of Understanding on 27th July 2017.
During a visit to CIDT by seven members of the Somali Ecological Society, the two organisations agreed to work together for the rebuilding of Somalia especially in relation to Capacity Strengthening in Natural Resource Management and Climate Compatible Development.
The Somali Ecological Society (SES) is a non-profit environmental NGO set up in the 1980s to promote the conservation of flora and fauna in Somalia and the sustainable utilisation of Somalia’s natural resources.
The SES members reside in Somalia as well as in the Diaspora; – many are PhD and Masters holder in the natural sciences, with strong links with the Somali Government (both South and North).
The Somali Government is seeking assistance from the SES to help rebuild national capacity of the natural resources sector after 30 years of civil war. In turn the SES have asked CIDT to partner in this task because of long-standing historic links. In the 1980s a number of CIDT staff were actively engaged in capacity strengthening of the natural resources sector in Somalia through training and education. A number of SES members are alumni of the University of Wolverhampton having studied at CIDT in the 1980s.
CIDT supports Forest Media Awards: Journalists rewarded for their writings at the service of forest governance
16 Cameroonian journalists were honored at the 3rd edition of the Forest Media Awards, on the 15th of June 2017 during a prestigious ceremony organized at the Hilton Hotel in Yaoundé. ForMA is a competition designed to reward journalists for their efforts to raise awareness on issues related to forest governance and climate change. It is an initiative of the association Forests and Rural Development (FODER). Like the two previous editions, ForMA was under the patronage of the Ministry of Communication and the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife. Two prizes were therefore in competition for this edition: an Open prize and an AFR Special prize. It was organized with the financial support of the project “Citizens’ Voice for Change: Forest Monitoring in the Congo Basin” (CV4C).
The introduction of this Special prize related to the Annual Forest Royalty (AFR), was among the major innovations of this edition. Through this award, FODER wanted to reward journalists who, with their pen, contributed significantly to the advocacy for the restoration of the Annual Forest Royalty share intended to the communities, removed in the finance law of the 2015 budget exercise. The advocacy carried out with journalists’ support permitted to reintroduce it in part in the finance law of the 2017 budget exercise, up to 6.75%.
So, the journalist Pierre NKA of the daily newspaper quotidien de l’Economie climbed the first step in the AFR written press category. The best of the radio category of this same prize, is Georges Tsayid, from Metoung Radio in Abong-Mbang. For the open prize, Eugène NDI, Eden Newspaper, Viviane BAHOKEN from Africa 24, Ebenizer DIKI from RTS and Madeleine NGEUNGA of Madyngeunga.over—blog.com respectively received the winning-prize in the print media, television, radio and online media categories.
The first of each category of these prizes was honored with the amount of 500,000 FCFA. And, their media respectively received an envelope of 300,000 FCFA each. As for the second and third of each category, a professional dictaphone was given as a reward.
Article by Christelle KOUETCHA, FODER