Twenty (20) community forest monitors have been re-trained to undertake forest monitoring and reporting activities. The 20 are part of 25 community representatives trained by Civic Response last year (2017) to undertake community level forest monitoring.
Civil Society in Ghana believes that a well-organised and structured CSIFM can improve transparency in the short term while contributing to the development of a sound legislative and regulatory framework for responsible forest management. The challenge had been how to operationalize this system without alienating communities who are the main intermediaries between what happens on the field and national level Civil Society actors who want to co-ordinate these processes.
Civic Response through extensive consultation identified a system being pioneered by The Rainforest Foundation – UK called Real Time Monitoring (RTM) as a viable community-level inclusiveness monitoring medium that will address that challenge. As a result, Civic Response in partnership with RFUK, developed an SMS mobile application platform (forestlink) for this purpose.
An initial training was organised last year to introduce the App to selected community-level monitors from forest fringe communities in Brong Ahafo, Eastern, Western, Ashanti and Volta regions, and to build their capacity on how to use the platform to identify and transmit forest infringements to a central database. The training was organised for community-level forest monitors to intensify forest monitoring and reporting of infractions using the RTM “forestlink” SMS mobile application.
This year’s retraining was organised as a refresher and to serve as a platform for the community monitors to share experiences and challenges encountered during monitoring after the last training in 2017. Ultimately, the training aimed at rejuvenating community monitors to continue with their monitoring and reporting activities.
At the end of the training, the community monitors indicated that the training had been really helpful. Stephen Yeboah, a community monitor from Enchi in the Western Region noted that the training had helped to address challenges community monitors faced earlier in their monitoring and reporting activities.
“Most of us had challenges operating the App but now due to this re-training, the challenges have been addressed,” he said.
Some also indicated that the meeting was enlightening.
“Because of this meeting, contractors can no longer take advantage of us because we are now enlightened. We have also been empowered to monitor our forests and protect it from destruction,” Eunice Affum, a community monitor from Sui in the Western Region said.
The training which was held in East Legon in the Greater Accra Region was organised under the auspices of the Civil Society-led Independent Forest Monitoring (CSIFM) Ghana Project, which is being implemented by Civic Response through the FAO-EU FLEGT Programme with funding from European Union, the Swedish International Cooperation Agency and the United Kingdom Department of International Development.
By: Jemima Opare-Henaku│Civic Response