The Rainforest Foundation UK, in collaboration with its local partner in Cameroon, FODER, has successfully developed and tested its ForestLink system. This ground-breaking new system enables communities anywhere in the world to use satellite-linked smartphones to report illegal logging, environmental crimes and human rights abuses taking place in some of the most remote parts of the planet.
Saturday 10th September was the last day of the ‘Train the Trainer’ programme, which has introduced FODER and GASHE staff to the system and how it works so that they can then, in turn, train community monitors in the field.
Georges-Thierry Handja, RFUK’s Mapping Coordinator, walked participants through the technology in the classroom. The group then tested the system close to the hotel where the training was being held. Peter Foster, RFUK’s GIS Coordinator, was on hand to provide technical support to the team as they became more and more familiar with what the technology is capable of and how it works.
“It was fantastic to see the team’s enthusiasm for the project and I can’t wait to see them take it to the communities next week,” said Rachel Agnew, RFUK’s Communications Manager.
“Forest people in this region are already witness to illegal logging and the first ForestLink community observers will soon be trained and equipped to report what they see and help save the forests. These local people are on the frontline of the fight against deforestation – and climate change. You could call them the rainforest defenders of Central Africa.”
Rodrigue Ngonzo from FODER told Rachel: “Those most vulnerable [to the effects of climate change] are local and indigenous communities. They depend on natural resources and their environment for their livelihoods, for their health, and for their economy.
“ForestLink provides communities and civil society with new tools to monitor changes in forest use and in their environment, to inform decision-makers in real-time so they can take action, and to contribute to the fight against illegal logging.”
The following day, the group headed east to the forest areas of Abong-Mbang in the Haut-Nyong department of the East region (see map below). This is where the practical ‘in situ’ test will take place on Thursday morning after further training. Community observers will also be trained in the Littoral region (department of Sanaga Maritime).