Local, independent monitoring provides natural resource management authorities with a range of information enabling them to carry out effective monitoring and control missions while aiming at improving governance in their respective sectors. To support such monitoring activities, we are working with our local partner, Forêts et Développement Rural (FODER), to further develop and test community-based real-time forest monitoring (RTM) in Cameroon.
An initial scoping mission in the Sanaga Maritime (below, top) and Haut Nyong (below, bottom) regions was carried out to identify and engage stakeholders for the implementation of our project, ’Community Based Real Time Forest Monitoring to support FLEGT processes‘.
In these areas, the most common illegalities recorded by the forest administration during monitoring of logging operations were:
- non-compliance with social responsibility agreements;
- non-compliance with technical and administrative logging standards;
- unauthorised logging in the national forest estate (unlicensed operators);
- operating off boundaries and fraudulent legal documents; and
- exceeding logging quotas.
Local communities have vocally denounced these illegal logging activities and the violations of their rights, but their concerns have largely been ignored. Some denunciations – such as those made by Ngoulmakong, Mapoubi, Eschiambor , Bonando and Ebombe villages – caught the attention of government authorities, but the logging companies did not stop their activities nor were they sanctioned. Mempaale members were even put in jail after demonstrating to claim their rights.
Following the initial RTM tests, we started working with six new communities in the Littoral and East regions of Cameroon. Our partner organisation, FODER, has been meeting with local forest authorities in order to relay project expectations, develop implementation strategies and explore opportunities for joint forest control.
By working closely with different stakeholders – including civil society, government agencies and local communities – we’re setting the stage to allow law enforcement officials to make timely and effective use of real-time data in order to stop illegal logging and protect vulnerable communities. The next step will be to select and train community monitors and advocacy leaders before the technology can be deployed for field testing.