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Review of Independent Forest Monitoring

Research reports

The background to the study is the growing importance of international initiatives to combat illegal logging, including the G8 Action Programme on Forests, the US President’s Initiative against Illegal Logging and the European Commission’s Action Plan for Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT). Initiatives such as these acknowledge the severe governance problems which affect the forest sector in many countries, and which impact negatively on livelihoods, the environment and external trade. The low credibility of established accountability and enforcement mechanisms, including government law enforcement agencies, is seen as one dimension of a problem which urgently needs to be addressed. The UK has played a prominent role in efforts to control illegal logging and associated trade, and has provided support for a number of instances of external monitoring.
The main focus of the review was on monitoring of enforcement activities within the official command and control regime (referred to here as ‘independent monitoring’). ther instances of third party monitoring of forest operations were also examined; these are referred to in a broader generic category of ‘external monitoring’. Voluntary industryled initiatives, such as forest certification, were not addressed in the review. Programmes of interest included the independent monitoring of government enforcement activities in Cambodia and Cameroon by the NGO ‘Global Witness’, and external monitoring of forest operations in Indonesia by the NGOs Environmental Investigation Agency and Telapak, all of which have been supported, inter alia, by DFID. Investments by other governments and donors were also covered, including two further instances of independent monitoring in Cameroon (one NGO, the other private sector), and the ‘Multi-sectoral forest protection committees’ in The Philippines. The aim was to determine how effective such investments have been in improving the availability of information and stimulating and sustaining change on the part of enforcement agencies.

David Brown with Cecilia Luttrell and Research Associates in Cambodia, Cameroon, Indonesia and The Philippines