After a training last week with Ivory Coast partners Initiatives pour le Développement communautaire et la conservation de la Forêt (IDEF), RFUK’s bespoke community based real-time monitoring application Forestlink is now active in 7 countries across central and West Africa. The app – which allows forest-dependent communities to send alerts on illegalities and human rights violations via satellite from even the most remote areas of the world – has enabled communities across the Congo Basin and Peruvian Amazon to seek justice and redress. Alerts have also served as a foundation for civil society investigations into logging companies, which in turn have led to governments suspending logging licences and prosecuting offenders. After the training, IDEF staff are now able to create simple forms for community monitors to record illegalities, as well as troubleshoot technical issues.
‘We really see a difference with ForestLink compared to the old system - where everything was done on paper. Now that we have the ForestLink application, the collection process is easier and all data is stored in one place, ready to be analysed,’ said Anderson Diedri of IDEF.
They were also trained on how to use the platform to verify alerts from the field and how to train the Ivorian authorities to set up accounts and use the system to identify potential illegalities, which will have the added benefit of ensuring that Abidjan-based civil society have access to the most up-to-date information on environmental destruction, and allow them to better target their investigations.
The need for ForestLink in Cote d’Ivoire is considerable. According to Global Forest Watch data, Cote d’Ivoire lost an estimated 248,000 hectares of primary forest in 2020 – more than the size of London and New York combined. Much of this deforestation is due to the clearing of forest for plantations serving the international cocoa industry, despite numerous commitments by the world’s largest sourcers to implement zero deforestation policies. One of IDEF’s key priorities will be to roll out ForestLink to ensure that cocoa production (a vital source of income for local communities) does not come at the expense of some of West Africa’s last intact rainforests.