Twenty-five (25) community representatives have been trained to undertake community level forest monitoring. The training which was organised by Civic Response in Larteh in the Eastern Region aimed at building the capacity of representatives to use a mobile application to collect data on forest infringements.
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.
The training was organised to outdoor the platform to selected community-level monitors from forest fringe communities in Brong Ahafo, Eastern, Western, Ashanti and Volta Regions. It was also organised to build their capacity on how to use the platform to identify and transmit forest infringements to a central database.
Representatives, who were given tablets for the data gathering exercise expressed enthusiasm and indicated that the device would enhance their monitoring work.
“Prior to this programme, I used to do some monitoring in my community. I quite remember about three weeks ago a timber company operating in our area destroyed our source of water. For three days we were not getting good drinking water and when we approached leaders of the company, they told us we didn’t have evidence, and I didn’t have any tool to photograph it. Now that I have this gadget, I think next time I will not even confront them. I will capture everything and send it to Civic Response,” Yooma Kofi John, a representative from Western Region, said.
Affum Eunice also from the Western Region noted, “I’m going to implement what I have learnt. With the gadget I have been given, I will be able to text any illegalities to Civic Response.”
The training was held under 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