• Join our webinar on sustaining momentum for FLEGT as part of a green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic

    22 September 2020
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    Human society is enduring one of the greatest global health crises of the past century: COVID-19. As the urgency of tackling the pandemic took centre stage, policy issues such as the implementation of the Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan and the Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs) moved into the background.

    Meanwhile, logging, trade exports, manufacturing, and construction are continuing. Governments in Europe and VPA countries face a tough choice to balance the health and welfare of the population with meeting their governance and political commitments.

    About this event

    On 14 October 2020, Member of the European Parliament Karin Karlsbro – in collaboration with Fern, the Centre for International Development and Training, the Environmental Investigation Agency and the World Resources Institute, will host a webinar on the importance of sustaining momentum for FLEGT as part of a green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Speakers from EU institutions, timber producing countries, the private sector and civil society will debate how to mitigate negative impacts the pandemic may have on governance and forest peoples’ rights, and how FLEGT can play a positive role in recovery plans.


    Host: Ms. Karin Karlsbro, Member of the European Parliament (Renew Europe Group), Chair of the “Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade” Monitoring Group, Fern, EIA, CIDT and WRI

    Moderation: European Forest Institute and Fern

    Language: The webinar will be in English. Simultaneous interpretation in French will be available.

    Panelists will include:

    Panel 1

    • Civil society/government representative from Indonesia – The dangers of deregulation and how to tighten checks (tbc)
    • Obed Owusu-Addai – Co-founder and Managing Campaigner, EcoCare Ghana – Lessons learned from the VPA process during COVID-19
    • Patrice Moussy, Head of Sector, Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development, Unit Environment, Natural Resources, Water, European Commission – Harnessing FLEGT for a green recovery

    Panel 2

    • Francisco Javier Escalante, Vice-Minister of Forest Development of the Forest Conservation Institute (ICF) of the Government of Honduras
    • Benoît Jobbé-Duval, Executive Director, Association Technique Internationale des Bois Tropicaux (ATIBT)
      – Perspective from the private sector on mitigating impacts and upholding the law
    • Horline Njike, Secretary General, Field Legality Advisory Group and Essylot Lubala, Coordinator, Observatoire de la Gouvernance Forestière
      – Lessons learned from independent forest monitoring in times of crisis

    View original article on the FERN website.

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  • Literature review on illegal wildlife trade explores preventative measures

    9 September 2020
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    Illegal wildlife trade (IWT) involves the illegal capture, collection, hunting, poaching, trade and smuggling of endangered, protected wildlife, derivatives and or its products. It is estimated that around 75% of newly emerging infectious diseases are zoonoses derived partly from illegally harvested and traded species (Wang et al., 2020). The 2002-2003, severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS emerged from wet wildlife markets in China and subsequently spread worldwide caused by a zoonotic coronavirus. The Ebola epidemic in West Africa and the global COVID 19 pandemic are stark reminders of the global catastrophic impacts of trade in wildlife species.

    For the past ten years, the University of Wolverhampton’s Centre for International Development and Training (CIDT) has been working in partnership with civil society organisations in the Congo Basin to strengthen forest monitoring and law enforcement and to address some of the underlying governance drivers which perpetuate these crimes. In 2018, CIDT and partners began to explore the synergies with wildlife monitoring and law enforcement. As part of this effort, CIDT conducted a review of the literature on illegal wildlife trade (IWT), looking particularly at local, regional and global responses and tools to combat IWT and related crimes.

    The review suggests that, given the failure of traditional regulatory and law enforcement options, complementary solutions need to be strengthened. These include a focus on alternative livelihoods; working with indigenous communities and civil society organisations on wildlife monitoring, investigations, and prosecution; and collaborative law enforcement with government agencies. The paper recommends significant targeted funding to fight corruption, improve transparency and strengthen government law enforcement capabilities as part of a post-COVID-19 recovery package.

    Click here to download the brochure.

    View online. 


    Reference: Wang, H., Shao, J., Luo X, Chuai, Z., Xu, S., Geng, M and Gao, Z (2020) Wildlife consumption ban is insufficient, Science, 367 (6485) 1435, DOI: 10.1126/science.abb6463

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  • Project support to the fight against COVID-19 in Kinshasa

    21 July 2020
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    June 2020 saw the launch of an awareness raising campaign against the coronavirus in the forestry communities of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). An association of non-governmental organisations – which together form the National Network for Independent Observers, Le Réseau National des Observateurs Indépendants (RENOI) – led the campaign. A strong delegation visited the District of Maluku, in the eastern part of the Congolese capital, Kinshasa; in order to raise the awareness of the inhabitants of this municipality against COVID-19, which has raged in the urban-rural area since March.

    This visit was an occasion for the network of environmental civil society organisations to carry a message of hope and solidarity in the fight against the pandemic of the Coronavirus, which has shaken the entire world. RENOI also distributed sanitation kits including soap bars, handwash, hydro-alcoholic solutions, masks etc.

    “Many people don’t respect social distancing measures imposed by the authorities. We try to raise their awareness and to do community follow-up. I am happy that you have brought these kits to fight against this illness here to Maluku. We hope this act will continue”, declared the deputy mayor of Maluku, Apollinaire Kwedi Makuntima.

    During the awareness raising session, particular emphasis was placed on respect of measures of good hygiene and social distancing recommended by the government and by the WHO in order to reduce the risk of contamination of this pandemic.

    “Malukhu represents the gate of entry of all the logs coming out of the forestry provinces, especially the Bandundu, Equator and Oriental provinces. We wanted to raise the awareness of the populations living in this district and those who live in communities where the wood arrives. If they understand the importance of protecting themselves, they will protect others and hence stop the spread of this sickness”, stated Essylot Lubala, the coordinator of the OGF organisation (Observatoire de la Gouvernance Forestière).

    This action is conducted within the framework of the CV4C project led by the University of Wolverhampton’s Centre for International Development (CIDT) in the Congo Basin, funded by the European Union, the FAO-FLEGT programme and DFID.

    Alfred NTUMBA, EnviroNews

    Translated by Habiba Mohamed, CIDT


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  • CIDT secures £174,000 to raise awareness around COVID19 with indigenous communities in the Congo Basin

    26 May 2020
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    CIDT are leading a partnership to distribute information and resources to indigenous communities in three countries in the Congo Basin, via existing project networks.

    There is a great threat from the COVID19 pandemic to the region, particularly for indigenous communities. Indigenous communities are the best guardians of the world’s forests and biodiversity. With the safety of urban areas being prioritised, the disruption of services in rural areas is a real risk when coupled with lack of accessible information on the disease and risks of isolation, discrimination and a slide into poverty. It is essential to raise awareness among this category of the population so that they are aware of the seriousness of the pandemic and respect the measures advocated by the country’s political and health authorities in order to protect themselves from spreading to areas not yet affected.

    Following a COVID 19 appeal to key donors, the EU and DFID have agreed for CIDT to redirect over £160,000 of contingency funding and under-spend allocated in the Citizen Voices for Change (CV4C) project towards a COVID 19 response. The team has successfully mobilised an additional £14,000 of new funding from the FAO EU FLEGT Programme.

    Dr Aurelian Mbzibain, Associate Professor (International Development) and Programme Manager for the CV4C led the appeal and commented:

    “This is really positive news and this money will go a long way in helping raise awareness and fighting COVID 19 with the communities we are working with across the Congo Basin”.

    The funds will be used by CV4C project partners to:

    • raise awareness about the virus and measures to prevent/combat the disease
    • identify the impacts of the virus on indigenous communities and women
    • assess and document the impacts on forest and wildlife activities (especially illegality)
    • propose actions and mechanisms to address or mitigate impacts on communities

    Networks established in the CV4C project include community organisations that undertake forest monitoring throughout the major forest areas. Our project will leverage these networks to:

    • reach 5000+ people to deliver awareness-raising campaigns
    • distribute 6000 sanitary kits distributed
    • engage 30 media outlets to disseminate information and messages on national mainstream and social media
    • provide regular updates on perceived COVID impacts to key decision makers

    Through keeping information and resources flowing between forest communities and governments, donors and media, this partnership will contribute towards keeping people safe and ensuring that effective planning can begin for when the COVID19 threat is more under control.

    The forests in the Congo Basin represent the second largest on the planet and are vital for global climate regulation and Africa’s biodiversity. They are home to over 40 million people and support the livelihoods of 75 million people from 150 ethnic groups. There is a growing body of evidence linking deforestation, destruction of natural habitats and biodiversity loss, and zoonoses such as COVID-19. In addition to these challenges, the forest sector has to combat illegal logging, corruption and poor forest and land governance.


    Photo taken by project partner FLAG Cameroon once the outreach work had begun.

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  • Independent review of 4-year CIDT project reveals significant progress

    20 May 2020
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    CED mission

    At the end of 2019 the Citizen Voices for Change (CV4C) – led by CIDT and funded by the EU and DFID – was assessed by external independent reviewers from the Canadian firm Fokabs. The Mid-Term Review team found that significant progress has been made towards the objective of the project to build strong and effective Non-State Actors capable of monitoring forest governance and forest land-use change in five Congo Basin countries.

    Click here to download the report.

    The review found that a wide series of results had been realised by the project:

    • Some governments (for instance Cameroon) are better responding to the independent forest monitoring reports generated by NSAs.
    • Significant improvements have been achieved in the quality of evidence generated by the project especially independent forest monitoring (IFM) reports.
    • Support to indigenous peoples and local communities and women to access their rights to benefits from forest exploitation
    • Publication of reports and briefs on the Open Timber Portal and development of FLEGT Watch have strengthened monitoring capability of NSAs
    • At policy level, CV4C has been instrumental in informing national forest-related processes such as FLEGT and REDD+ in the project countries.

    The review reported that CV4C has delivered a successful capacity strengthening programme for non-state and government actors including:

    • Improving the organisational and institutional capacities of project partners through the elaboration of strategic documents (policies, plans and strategies).
    • Organising regional exchanges to promote learning between countries in order to boost the performance of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and other actors in tracking and combatting illegalities in the forest sector.
    • Supporting ISO certification of the Standardized External Independent Monitoring System (SNOIE) in Cameroon and technical assistance on quality management systems in other project countries.
    • Developing and piloting the satellite-based FLEGT WATCH tool allowing for improved efficiency and impact on the ground.
    • Driving significant focus on gender and mainstreaming through the project
    • Establishing a regional community of practice on IFM that shares best practices and fosters synergies culminating in the establishment of a Pan African Network of IFM organisations (PA-OI) the Congo Basin.

    The evaluators, Prof Kalame Fobissie and Kevin Enongene, found that:

    “CV4C has made considerable progress regarding the attainment of the four expected results set by the project and the majority of respondents rated the progress achieved towards the attainment of the project results as high to very high.”
    “The project has been efficient towards the use of financial and human resources for the implementation of project activities.”
    “Overall, the project is on track towards attaining its overall and specific objective by end date.”

    The review report presented lessons relating to: IFM approaches and quality management, gender mainstreaming, capacity building and project implementation. The review was conducted through the review and synthesis of project reports, documents and online information. In addition, primary data was collected using interviews and focus group discussions (FGDs) with partners and other relevant project stakeholders.

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  • Spotlight on CIDT’s work in Africa

    CIDT spotlight on Africa brochure

    CIDT was invited to showcase its projects and impact in Africa to the UK’s Ambassador for Africa, Emma Wade-Smith OBE, during a Trade Commission visit organised by the Department for International Trade at Derby University on 5th March 2020.

    Focused on Working in Partnership, the event was hosted by the Midlands Enterprise University of which the University of Wolverhampton is a member. A large proportion of CIDT’s work in recent years has focused on strengthening capacity of projects, programming and organisations in over 25 sub-Saharan African countries.

    We are proud to support multi-lateral agencies engaged in regional development including the African Union, UNIDO, UNICEF, DFID and the World Bank. CIDT has implemented three multi-million European Union funded grants in Central Africa and delivered longitudinal studies in Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Zambia.

    Click the icons on the map below to explore our work, for example, supporting green growth in Rwanda, infrastructure in Somaliland, education in Zambia or energy in Nigeria.

    Click here to download the full brochure.

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  • Advances in Independent Forest Monitoring are bringing change to the forests of the Congo Basin

    6 April 2020
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    IFM in CAR

    The University of Wolverhampton’s Centre for International Development and Training (CIDT) has been at the forefront of promoting civil society led independent monitoring of forests, governance and land-use change processes in the Congo Basin within its Citizen Voices for Change Programme since 2017.

    This information leaflet recalls several stories of real, meaningful and lasting change, realised through years of collaboration, hard work and innovation.

    These efforts are the work of several civil society organisations (Brainforest in Gabon, CAGDF in Congo, CIEDD in CAR, CED and FODER in Cameroon, OGF in DRC and FLAG at regional level) that are motivated to implement the behaviour and systems required to ensure that Independent Forest Monitoring (IM) becomes an effective mechanism for improved forest management and governance.

    These impact stories are the results of coordinated efforts within and between countries, where lessons are shared, support is at hand, and goals are aligned. There is a risk that the current global Coronavirus epidemic will further weaken forest governance and law enforcement systems in these countries and hence the need for national civil society organisations to remain vigilant. International development and donor agencies must also ensure that monitoring and law enforcement resources are available during and after the pandemic to ensure that forest illegalities remain under check and that organised crime groups and other unscrupulous groups are held to account.

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  • Research paper dissects the factors impacting efficacy of independent forest monitoring networks in Cameroon

    6 February 2020
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    SNOIE Forest Monitors in Cameroon. Credit: FODER.

    This research paper by Aurelian Mbzibain (University of Wolverhampton) and Symphorien Ongolo (University of Göttingen) takes Cameroon as a case study of the nature of independent forest monitoring (IFM) networks, the impact they have and the challenges they face. In this context, self-guided NGOs forge relationships with the authorities and expose unlawful activity under the pressures of funding uncertainties and unmet training needs.

    The article is published in the journal ‘Forest Policy and Economics’, Volume 109, December 2019. Its full title is Complementarity, rivalry and substitution in the governance of forests: Learning from independent forest monitoring system in Cameroon.

    Results of this research have already stimulated national discussions in the sustainable management of forests in Gabon with the EU Ambassador to Gabon, Rosario Bento Pais, who stressed the need for understanding between actors and the stronger role of civil society in monitoring forest law enforcement and governance.

    Aurelian Mbzibain commented,

    “Forest management is a very important issue for the European Union. The aim here is to encourage good coordination and smooth communication between the administration, civil society and economic operators in the context of independent monitoring of the management of natural resources, in order to achieve the objectives of good governance and sustainable forest management.”


    The paper highlights a few key points around independent forest monitoring in Cameroon, remarking that:

    • IFM governance networks in Cameroon contribute to improving transparency and forest governance.
    • IFM linkages with state agencies are fluid ranging from complementarity to rivalry.
    • Network alliances with agencies beyond forestry enhance forest law enforcement
    • Inadequate funding and weak capabilities amongst network actors constrain effectiveness.


    The consequence of state-controlled forestry in Cameroon has been the overexploitation of forest resources often in conflict with local forest-dependent communities and state conservation objectives. The failure of state-controlled forestry to achieve sustainable forest management has led to the emergence of new network like arrangements amongst which is independent forest monitoring (IFM) by civil society. The aim of this paper is to scrutinize the factors which affect the effectiveness of IFM governance network in Cameroon. Our research focused on a case study of Cameroon, employing a governance network perspective. The main findings are that national civil society in Cameroon is playing a significant role in improving transparency in the forest sector and holding decision makers to account. The paper finds a shift from technical areas of forest monitoring to the monitoring of social obligations and the respect of community rights by private companies. An analysis of actors highlights a strong network of national NGOs with self-defined goals and strategies engaged in very fluid relationships with law enforcement agencies beyond traditional ministries of forests and wildlife characterised by a spectrum ranging from complementarity, substitution and rivalry. The lack of sustainable funding and weak capabilities of national NGOs to navigate these fluid relationships emerges as core constraints for network effectiveness. Accordingly, recommendations for effectiveness entail strategies for sustainable funding, capacity strengthening and network coordination to address current weaknesses but also to build trust and credibility of the governance network.


    Photo: SNOIE Forest Monitors in Cameroon. Credit: FODER.

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  • CIDT leads on regional forest and climate change forum in SE Asia and the Pacific

    23 September 2019
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    As part of its role as a technical partner on the EU funded SE Asia Forest Policy project, CIDT is now leading the preparation of a regional forest and climate change policy forum. This Forest Governance Forum (FGF) will be held in Jakarta, Indonesia in February 2020. CIDT is building on similar regional Forest Governance Forums that it has successfully implemented in Central and West Africa since 2011.

    In SE Asia, CIDT is working with respected conservation NGO, Birdlife International who are based in Cambridge. The project operates in 4 countries – Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Papua New Guinea and in each country, a leading national conservation NGO is responsible for the implementation of project activities. CIDT is very excited to lead on this initiative as this will be the first regional forum to be organised in SE Asia and the Pacific. Such forums are critical in creating the necessary links between policy, practice and key stakeholders in the regional working on forest governance, conservation and climate change. The tropical forests of SE Asia and the Pacific (Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam & Papua New Guinea) are some of the most important forests in the world for economic, social and environmental reasons. These forests cover a total area of more 170 million hectares, support extraordinary species diversity and provide livelihoods for millions of people.

    From 9-16 August 2019 CIDT’s Cristina Jara and Richard Nyirenda visited Bogor and Jakarta in Indonesia to meet with project partners, senior Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry officials, key forestry and climate change stakeholders that included CIFOR, UK Department for International Development experts, regional forestry training organisation RECOFTC, representatives of international NGOs and think tanks (e.g. the World Resources Institute) and academia. This visit formed the initial and critical part of the preparations for the regional forum. Time was also spent working on detailed plans with project partner Burung Indonesia (a member of Birdlife International).

    One of the key outcomes of the visit was the setting up of a National Advisory Group that will advise the forum organising and technical committee on issues relating to the relevance and overall scope of the forum. The National Advisory Group is made up of representatives from the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, national NGOs, the private sector and other local stakeholders engaged in Forestry projects and programmes in Indonesia. CIDT also participated in a National Stakeholders Meeting (NSC) with the significant participation of Ministry of Environment and Forestry. During this high-level meeting CIDT representatives presented our work on forest governance. Richard Nyirenda noted:

    “This is the first event in this category in South East Pacific Asia, which will be an opportunity for international and national organisations, researchers, academics and private sector to discuss forestry issues, opportunities and current projects.

    The aim of this meeting was also to engage the Ministry of the Environment and Forestry as a key actor for this event.

    In Jakarta, CIDT, BirdLife International and Burung Indonesia visited RECOFT, CIFOR, MFP4 and WRI-Indonesia headquarters to share information about the forum and encourage active participation in the event. Cristina Jara remarked:

    This first visit was very positive. The organisations we met are keen on participating and supporting the Forest Governance Forum by inviting their local and regional partners, funding participants, leading and presenting sessions, and suggesting relevant topics.”

    CIDT will be working closely with BirdLife International, Burung Indonesia, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, CIFOR and other key organisations during the following months to make this forum possible.

    More information, including information for applicants, can be found at the Forest Governance Forum web page. Richard and Cristina were accompanied by Birdlife’s Kuala Lumpur based regional Project Manager, Hum Gurung.

    Photos from the Forum steering meeting

    Photos from meetings

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  • Développement stratégique régional pour le réseau panafricain des organisations mettant en œuvre l’observation des forêts

    17 September 2019
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    Avec l’appui financier et technique du projet CV4C, financé par l’UE et géré par le CIDT, le partenaire du projet, le Field Legality Advisory Group (FLAG) a organisé avec succès un atelier régional de planification stratégique pour le réseau panafricain d’observation indépendante des forêts (PA-OI), qui s’est tenu à Kribi, au Cameroun, du 21 au 26 juillet 2019.

    L’atelier a consacré deux jours au renforcement des capacités techniques axées sur les enquêtes techniques concernant les infractions forestières, les flux financiers illicites et la criminalité transnationale. Ces séances avaient pour objectif le transfert des compétences techniques de l’application des lois forestières afin d’améliorer les approches en matière d’observation indépendante des forêts. Animé par des experts dans le domaine de la mise en application des lois environnementales en Afrique, la formation proposait des stratégies et des actions pour lutter contre l’exploitation forestière illégale, les crimes économiques et financiers, ainsi que les techniques d’enquête sur les infractions forestières.

    Suite àcette formation, un atelier de planification stratégique avait été organisé pour la Plateforme africaine d’Observation Indépendante (PA-OI), un réseau rassemblant 11 organisations de la société civile àtravers le Bassin du Congo, afin d’échanger les connaissances, les expériences et partager les informations sur des questions liées à l’Observation Indépendante des Forêts (OIF). L’objectif principal de l’atelier était d’examiner, de modifier et d’adopter les outils stratégiques et opérationnels indispensables au bon fonctionnement du secrétariat technique de la plateforme. Cela comprenait notamment la finalisation du document stratégique de la plateforme, la rédaction d’un plan d’action concret, ainsi que l’élaboration d’un plan de communication interne et externe. Mme Horline Njiké, secrétaire générale du Field Legality Advisory Group(FLAG) et membre fondateur de la plateforme, a résumé les objectifs de l’atelier comme suit : «valider et convenir des principes, critères et indicateurs nécessaires à une OIF solide et opérationnel pour les membres de la plateforme ».

    En savoir plus sur la Plateforme africaine d’Observation Indépendante(PA-OI).

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