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COMMUNITY BASED

REAL TIME FOREST MONITORING

Community-based real-time forest monitoring systems could help improve how forests are protected and governed. Building on earlier attempts at independent forest monitoring, they could greatly improve the amount, quality and transparency of data about changes in forest areas. They could make it easier to assess the quality of governmental enforcement where illegalities are observed and reported.
The Rainforest Foundation UK, in collaboration with its partner organisation in Cameroon, FODER, has successfully developed and tested a ground-breaking new system which enables communities anywhere in the world to capture and transmit accurately geo-referenced reports of forest illegalities to a central database in real-time, even from areas where there is no mobile phone or internet connectivity.
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This initiative is supported by UKAID, the Department for International Development (DfID)
HOW IT WORKS

1

Information is collected using a tablet computer or smartphone by members of a local community.

2

Using a bespoke app, the information is coded and then transmitted to an online repository via a satellite modem transmitter.

3

The information is stored in a central geographical database where it can be accessed and analysed by experts and/or automatically re-broadcast for in-field verification of the reports. The incident reports can be searched for numerous variables, such as the name of company involved, type of infraction etc.

4

The verification stage allows for collection of additional information about any given incident reported; for instance on the approximate date when it took place, whether it is isolated or a regular occurrence, its author, possible causes and observed impacts and for documenting it visually. The verifier could also assess how the information should be acted on by enforcement agencies.

5

Once verified, information would to be sent on to enforcement or other agencies.

1
COLLECT
2
TRANSMIT
3
STORE
4
VERIFY
5
ACT!

THE FIELD TEST

CAMEROON
Forets et Developpement Rural [FODER], our partner organisation in Cameroon carried out a field test of the system in early 2015. Two communities were trained in the use of the reporting tablets which use a simple icon-based recording and transmitting system. Communities were also trained in identifying the different types of illegalities they would be observing and reporting during the exercise.
The real-time monitoring system recently developed by RFUK and FODER will allow to significantly speed up the process of transmission of alerts related to illegal forest activities from local communities to the competent law enforcement authorities. - Rodrigue Ngonzo, FODER
In 2013, a total of 89 forest concessions in Cameroon covered an area of 6.3 million hectares, or about one-third of the area of dense forest in the country.

DATA COLLECTED

Over the course of the live testing period, the two communities reported more than 40 incidents of illegal forestry activities ~ including illegal cutting and log-marking, but also relating to illegal environmental destruction and failure of loggers to comply with their social obligations.

DATA TRANSMITTED

The communities transmitted the data in real time via satellite modem transmitter to the MappingForRights repository

DATA STORED

The information was stored in a central geographical database where it can accessed and analysed by experts and/or automatically re-broadcast for in-field verification of the reports.

DATA VERIFICATION

Around 20 of these observations were verified in the field by our local partner FODER

ACT!

The information is now ready to be sent on to relevant authorities, enforcement agencies and all those with an interest in putting a stop to illegal logging in this region.