Civil Society-led Independent Forest Monitoring in Ghana (CSIFM-Ghana) was a project implemented by Civic Response with funding from the FAO FLEGT PROGRAMME. The FAO FLEGT PROGRAMME was supported by Swedish International Cooperation Agency, the United Kingdom Department for International Development, and the European Union.
The FLEGT-VPA process provides the vehicle for Ghana to improve forest governance, which has been identified as one of the major underlying causes of illegal logging in the country. The multi-stakeholder approach used in the VPA process ensured that the concerns of all stakeholders were incorporated in the design and implementation of the agreement. Article 16 of the Ghana-EU VPA document makes provisions for stakeholder involvement in the VPA implementation process, but it however fell short of clearly defining specific roles. Notwithstanding, CSOs strongly believe that the FLEGT-VPA document is very detailed and addresses most of the governance challenges of the forestry sector.
Access to timely and credible information has hindered effective CSO monitoring of FLEGT-VPA processes in Ghana. Despite recurrent statements by the Government during Joint Monitoring and Review Mechanism (JMRM) meetings about their willingness to make information available to stakeholders, lack of funds and a system to make information easily accessible to stakeholders has stalled this commitment.
The CSIFM-Ghana project aimed at tackling these problems by using innovation and technology to make information already available in the GWTS accessible to all stakeholders.
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. Real Time Monitoring (RTM) enables communities to report forest infractions via SMS, videos and photos, after which verification and corrective actions are implemented.
The project also sought to entrench Civil Society participation in VPA implementation by recruiting, training and equipping CSOs and other non-state actors in TVD legality verification standards to participate in TVD audits as observers.
The overall objective of the project was to ensure that Civil Society is actively monitoring the issuing of a credible, transparent and acceptable FLEGT license.
- To realize improved access to information that ensures law enforcement, accountability and transparency in VPA implementation process
- To entrench active CSOs and other non-state actors’ participation in VPA implementation.
Output 1: Web interface for GWTS developed to improve access to information for CSOs and other non-state actors.
Output 2: CSOs and other non-state actors actively participate in TVD audits as observers
Output 3: Structured, coordinated and evidence-based CSIFM undertaken in Ghana.
The key stakeholder and collaborators with this project were:
- Civil Society Organizations (CSOs)
- Non-State actors
- Forestry Commission (FSD, TVD)
- Ata Marie Group Ghana (AMGG)
Although funding for this project under FAO FLEGT Programme ended in 2018, independent forest monitoring is still ongoing in Ghana with the support of Rainforest Foundation UK.