Forests are at the core of Civic Response’s work. Under the Forest Governance programme, we advocate for forest sector policy and legislative reform based on community tenure, management and enterprise development. We seek forest management systems that provide just, democratic and sustainable development at local and national levels. We are also concerned about Chinese involvement in illegal natural resource exploitation especially Rosewood and illegal surface mining. We are working with communities to monitor, document and publish findings for advocacy. Lack of tree tenure for farmers and landowners is promoting deforestation. Civic Response is advocating for farmers and landowners to receive significant financial benefits from nurtured trees as an incentive to maintain trees on farm.
The focus of Civic Response in the minerals sector since 2016 is illegal surface mining. Civic Response in collaboration with Wacom and Kasa have been involved in evidence–based advocacy including “naming and shaming.” We are concerned about the destruction of our forest reserves by illegal surface mining with the involvement of politicians who appear to have no regard for the impact of their actions on climate change and the health of our cocoa industry. We are again concerned about Chinese involvement in the promotion of illegal surface mining and consequent environmental degradation and educating communities on how all these will come back later to affect their health and livelihoods negatively.
In 2006, Civic Response got involved in the climate change/ REDD+ discourse not only because of the impact of government decisions on communities in the long run but also to understand the on-going global discussions on climate change and their consequences for forest-owning communities.
The overall objective for our climate governance work is that democratic and development-rights based responses are adopted and implemented. It is worth mentioning though that, our climate governance programme focuses on mitigation. We are working with communities to understand the causes of climate change, impact, how communities’ activities contribute to climate change, and how communities can support mitigation efforts.
Over the last couple of years, we are also involved in the discussions on National Determined Contributions (NDCs) with specific interests in restoration and the involvement of communities and the private sector. We are aware of the importance of forests to the achievement of the NDCs and mobilising CSOs in the sector for capacity building and monitoring the implementation of forest sector NDC priority areas.
Current major challenges in the land sector include large-scale land acquisition for plantation development against carbon offsetting, biofuel development, as well as other agricultural commodities. Large-scale land acquisition by companies and individuals deprives community members, whose livelihood depends on access to these lands, their source of livelihood and getting further entrenched into poverty. Large-scale land acquisition has been on the ascendency in recent times, especially across Sub-Saharan Africa.
Security of land tenure for most farmers is an issue because they have no documented title deeds/agreements with the landowners on their farmlands. This makes them very vulnerable, insecure and the reason why they can easily lose the lands they are farming on to investors.
Farmers are not able to undertake any long-term investments like growing trees because they lack secure land tenure. The insecurity of land tenure for farmers is one of the drivers of deforestation. Civic Response’s land governance campaign focuses on advocacy for a national land governance framework that is climate conscious and socially just.