Civil Society-led Independent Forest Monitoring platform members have undergone training in a newly developed indigenous application that will be used for real time monitoring of Ghana’s forests.
The training which took place in Accra in November 2023, had ten (10) CSOs in the forestry sector attending. Representatives from Tropenbos Ghana, Friends of the Earth Ghana, Rights & Advocacy Initiatives Network (RAIN), DEVASCOM Foundation, Nature & Development Ghana (NDG), Pals of the Earth (POTE), Environmental Protection Association of Ghana (EPAG), Youth & Nature Development Organisation (YNDO), Think of the Future and Civic Response were all in attendance.
The CSIFM-Ghana project which Civic Response initiated in 2017, was to ensure that Civil Society is actively monitoring the issuing of a credible, transparent and acceptable FLEGT license under the Ghana-European Union VPA agreement. The project aimed at using innovation and technology to make information already available in the Ghana Wood Tracking System accessible to all stakeholders. Also, given that some illegalities occur on the blind side of the Forestry Commission, the project aimed at embarking on community forest monitoring, which involves gathering information on forest infractions.
To achieve this, Civic Response adopted the Real Time Monitoring system (Forestlink) developed by Rainforest Foundation UK to engage in community forest monitoring in real time. RTM enables communities to report forest infractions via SMS, videos and photos, after which verification and corrective actions are implemented.
However, based on the objection by the Forestry Commission of Ghana to give foreign partners direct access to local data in the raw state, CSIFM members saw the need for the development of an indigenous application that can be used across the board by all the CSOs on the CSIFM platform.
Hence the development of the Ghana Natural Resource Monitoring (GhNRM) platform.
The GhNRM platform which was developed by DEVNEST Consult, a Ghanaian software developer, is an all-inclusive digital platform that enables real-time reporting, monitoring and management of forest infractions occurring in forest fringe communities. It has both a web platform and a mobile application. The mobile application is specifically designed for community forest monitors whose user access is limited to raising and sending alerts to the web platform. The web platform however is designed to give other partners access to data depending on their user rights or access.
According to the Head of Programmes at Civic Response, Mr. Albert Katako, the training was to build the capacities of CSIFM members on the use of the new platform. As trainers, participants are expected to train community forest monitors in their various project communities.
The development of the platform and the training was facilitated by Civic Response with support from Fern.