Civil Society Independent Forest Monitoring Platform launched

Accra- As part of measures to protect the forest, seven civil society organisations have launched the Civil Society Independent Forest Monitoring (CSIFM) platform in Accra.

The technologically-led tool will complement the efforts of the Forestry Commission’s enforcement by providing them with information on infractions happening on the blind side of the authority for the necessary corrective actions to be taken.

Mr Musah Abu-Juan, the Forest Technical Director at the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, who launched the platform pledged government’s commitment and commended the parties for the effort to address the infringements in the sector.

He expressed the hope that both parties would expand the initiative to other parts of the regions and districts to keep monitoring to protect the country’s forest.

Mr Obed Owusu Addai, the Project Coordinator explaining the initiative said CSOs of the platform employ a technological 3-tier system of Independent Forest Monitoring-community monitors, Community Based Organisations based in the district and civil societies and Forestry Commission.

He said the launch was to create the awareness to the public and other relevant stakeholders of the existence of the CSIFM platform in Ghana.

He said the Nature and Development Foundation (NDF) and Tropenbos Ghana (TBG) with funding from European Union had been implementing the project Strengthening the Capacity of Non-state Actors (NSAs) to improve Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) and Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+).

He said the project known as the NSA project was to monitor, advocate and engage with State and Non-State Actors on FLEGT-Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) and REDD+.

“The NSA project from its inception in 2017, has spearheaded the formation of this Civil Society-led platform in Ghana,” he said.

He said the system was made up of the web platform, mobile application and the transmission system.

He said thematic areas being monitored on the platform included timber harvesting, illegal farming, illegal mining, bushfire, transportation of logs and off-reserve large-scale lands.

He said the platform had the potential to provide resolution of social conflicts around forest usage and restore trust and believe in the forestry system.

He said it would improve detection and documentation of infringements and create database for easy referencing and for planning purposes.

“It will provide for interrogation of existing laws and advocate for revision and amendments, where necessary with greater understanding of laws and legal compliance,” he added.

Madam Mercy Owusu, the Executive Director, Tropenbos Ghana said the platform would raise important issues that may not necessarily be identified in auditing by the Timber Validation Department (TVD).

She said the CSIFM would complement the efforts of the Forestry Commission’s enforcement by providing them with information on infractions happening on the blind side of the authority for the necessary corrective actions to be taken.

The Executive Director said the platform would provide a well-organised, documented and systemic approach to address community and local level complaints as opposed to other less desirable methods of addressing grievances.

“Information generated through CSIFM helps the TVD to better select its samples and better channel the scarce resources for effective audits. It becomes useful information for TVD auditors to begin their work,” she added.

She said the CSIFM also explored aspects of timber legality that received less attention and made sure such issues were addressed.

The parties currently involved on the platform are NDF, TBG, Civic Response, EcoCare, Rural Development and Youth Association, Rainforest Alliance and Friends of the Earth.

Source: Ghana News Agency