Cameroonian civil society organisations equip themselves to monitor timber supply chains

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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