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RFUK’s Real-time Monitoring project expands to new communities in Africa

28 January 2019

RFUK's ForestLink system is active in three countries in Africa and will soon expand to four. From left to right: Ghana, Cameroon, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo. 

Upwards of 100 communities across Africa will benefit from the Rainforest Foundation UK’s Real-time Monitoring (RTM) project, thanks to new support from the UK Department for International Development (DfID).

The project, which currently operates in Cameroon, Ghana and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), will be scaled up and expanded to new regions, including the Republic of Congo (Congo-Brazzaville). Over the next two years the project will support hundreds of community-based monitors in their fight against illegal logging and deforestation.

Illegal logging represents a grave threat to rainforest communities across Africa, who depend on forests for their livelihoods. The RTM project aims to prevent such illegal activities, while ensuring communities are also able to stand up to logging companies and push for better social and environmental responsibility.

The RTM project began in 2016 following the successful testing of RFUK’s bespoke real-time technology, ForestLink. Using a smartphone and satellite modem, ForestLink enables local community members to report illegal activity in real-time – even in areas with no mobile or internet connectivity.

In just three years since ForestLink was first deployed, the system has been at the centre of numerous successful interventions by law enforcement agencies in Africa as well as the Peruvian Amazon, helping stop instances of illegal logging and illegal mining in the world’s two largest rainforests. In Ghana, for instance, the communities using RFUK’s ForestLink system are reporting a 50 per cent reduction in illegal activities in their areas.

RFUK and its local partners are now working with forestry and law enforcement agencies to integrate ForestLink more fully into their operations. In doing so, ForestLink could soon be used to protect millions of hectares of rainforest – and to combat other crimes, such as poaching and human rights abuses.

“ForestLink has come a long way in a very short time,” said Senior Project Coordinator, Élodie Barralon. “We’re very happy for the opportunity to expand our Real-time monitoring project, reaching new areas impacted by illegal logging while engaging hundreds of local monitors who are passionate about protecting their forests and standing up for their rights.”

*A related project is also active in Peru’s Madre de Dios region. For more information on all RFUK’s real-time monitoring work, click here.

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