Lessons learned from independent forest monitoring in Africa

The nongovernmental organisation Fern and its partners in four African countries have reported how independent forest monitoring has had positive effects on forest governance. In a new brief, they share stories of impact and lessons they have learned.

Field mission by IO-FLEGT, Republic of the Congo by IO-FLEGT

Fern’s partners in Cameroon, Ghana, Liberia and the Republic of the Congo have each promoted independent forest monitoring in different ways, reflecting their national contexts, challenges and stakeholder priorities.

Their impacts include:

  • Successfully advocating for a stronger tree tenure and benefit sharing policy, and for the Forestry Commission to increase public access to information in Ghana
  • Overturning a government decision to scrap community forest revenues in Cameroon
  • Enabling forest communities and indigenous people in the Republic of the Congo to work with local authorities to stop illegal mining in forest areas, and obtaining an official investigation into a Chinese logging company that had failed to respect its social obligations
  • Strengthening the Community Rights Law in Liberia, and successfully advocating for communities to receive funds from logging they had been owed since 1998

Lessons learned include the power of ‘future proof’ monitoring tools and guides, such as those used in Cameroon and the Republic of the Congo, as well as the importance of capacity building, involvement of civil society platforms, and engagement with stakeholders such as parliamentarians in Africa and EU representatives.

The briefing note also says international exchanges among monitors in different countries, as well as cross-country reports and analysis have helped enhance learning and impacts.

Each country is engaged in both REDD+ (reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) and a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) with the EU to address illegal logging, improve forest governance and promote legal timber trade.

The brief points to opportunities for independent forest monitoring to strengthen links between the two processes, and it urges the EU to ensure that monitoring continues to thrive so that VPA’s can meet their potential.

It says monitoring should inform the work of regional bodies (such as ECOWAS and COMIFAC), initiatives such as the Congo Basin Forest Partnership and the Central Africa Forest Initiative, and reporting processes linked to the Sustainable Development Goals and to Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement on climate change.


Download the brief: Independent Forest Monitoring: a chance for improved governance in VPA countries?