New alerts map shows vital role of forest communities in tackling illegal logging

July 4, 2022

RFUK and its local partners in Cameroon, the Republic of Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Liberia, Ivory Coast and Peru have launched a webmap that includes thousands of illegal alerts sent by local community monitors using the ForestLink system.

While satellite forest monitoring has transformed our ability to detect forest loss, ForestLink unlocks the potential of communities on the ground to provide real-time, highly accurate and actionable information on the causes of deforestation and type of illegality.

The first-of-its-kind map contains community-generated alerts on a number of issues ranging from human rights abuses to widespread illegal logging as well as additional information gathered from civil society verification missions. Its impacts so far include landmark court cases against logging companies, timber seizures, compensation paid to local communities and the destruction of illegal equipment worth millions of US dollars.

However, the majority of alerts have not been investigated, let alone used as evidence by the respective national forest authorities to sanction wrongdoing. This lack of enforcement can be due to a lack of resources and, in some cases, the collusion of officials and political figures.

Joe Eisen, RFUK Executive Director, said,

“Enabled by simple low-cost technologies, local communities are the future of forest protection. They are doing their part by providing quality information about what is happening in remote forest areas; it is now up to governments and their international reform partners to throw their weight behind this.”

As the international community grapples with how to tackle the climate and biodiversity emergencies, ForestLink offers a highly scalable way of monitoring and protecting forests. A recent analysis in Cameroon found that it cost £2.75 per hectare to run, which compares favourably to the high cost of creating and managing strictly protected areas or REDD+ projects, for example.

Justin Kamga, of FODER, said,

“ForestLink has been an effective tool in monitoring and protecting forests in Cameroon. Communities have sent over a thousand alerts through the system that have contributed to the suspension of logging titles and the sanctions of offenders by the competent authorities of the country. We hope to deploy the system to tackle issues such as unsustainable oil palm, rubber and poaching in the future.”

Click here to view the map

Visit the dedicated ForestLink microsite to learn more about the system.

View this map story to see the system in action.

ForestLink unlocks the potential of forest communities to protect their forest home by connecting them with law enforcement to monitor tropical forests in real-time. It is a partnership between RFUK, Civic Response, CJJ, EcoDev, FENAMAD, Foder, APEM and GASHE as well as local forest communities.

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