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By engaging communities in the fight to tackle illegal logging, this project seeks to strengthen their involvement in forest management using the Rainforest Foundation UK's (RFUK's) innovative ForestLink real-time monitoring technology. 

This project is currently supporting some 31 communities across Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana and Peru. Nearly 60 local observers have been trained in Africa and are involved in technology deployment and testing.  

Locations: Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Peru

Local partners: FODER, GASHE, FoE-Ghana, FENAMAD, AIDESEP

Funders: Department for International Development, The Waterloo Foundation, The Rainforest Fund

RFUK works in the world's two largest rainforests: the Congo Basin and the Amazon. Spread over billions of acres, these forests are under threat from illegal activities like logging and mining. These activities cause a breakdown in forest habitats, underminind forest and indigenous peoples' livelihoods and destroying ecosystems.

The potential role of forest dwellers in monitoring forest illegalities has to date been largely overlooked in favour of an externally-driven model, typically based abroad or in capital cities, that relies heavily on third-party monitors. This can lead to prohibitively costly and inefficient programmes that contribute little to real improvements in forest governance.

National and local authorities in Africa and Peru often lack the means and mechanisms needed to supervise and control extractive industries' operations, and local communities lack the means and resources to alert authorities to illegalities. 

  • Implement innovative, scalable models of community-based real-time monitoring to reduce illegalities in targeted areas;
  • Increase and sustain the engagement of forest communities in monitoring illegal activities in their forests, improving their representation in dialogues on issues like illegal logging and mining, and introducing new technologies that have the potential to empower communities to take control in maintaining their forests;
  • Support the continued technical development of the monitoring system and facilitate a 'Community of Best Practice' on community-based forest management; 
  • Engage with national and regional forest and environmental bodies to develop appropriate mechanisms for verification and enforcement of forest illegalities and laws and integrate community-based forest monitoring programmes through official monitoring actions;
  • Bring monitoring into the hands of the communities that live in the forests, contributing the better forest management and natural resources governance and helping to secure community land tenure rights and livelihoods. 

In 2015, with our Cameroonian partner FODER, we successfully piloted new technology, ForestLink, that enables communities to capture and transmit reports of various illegalities to a central database in real-time - even in areas where there is no mobile or internet connectivity. 

Building on this experience, and with funding from the Department of International Development (DFID), The Waterloo Foundation, The Rainforest Fund and the general public, we aim to further test and develop the ForestLink system in real-life enforcement contexts in Cameroon, DRC, Ghana and Peru.  

  • Our real-time monitoring technology has been successfully piloted in Cameroon and is now being deployed and tested in DRC and Ghana, as well as in additional locations in Cameroon.
  • 23 communities in Africa and nine in Peru have been initially selected to participate in scale-up implementation of the technology.
  • Nearly 60 community observers have already been trained and are currently further testing the technology across our countries of work in Africa.

"ForestLink provides communities and civil society with new tools to monitor change in forest use and in their environment, to inform decision-makers in real-time so they can take action, and to contribute to the fight against illegal logging."

Rodrigue Ngonzo, FODER

© Rainforest Foundation UK