How do we ensure that forest exploitation does not lead to environmental degradation? How can the rights of indigenous peoples and forest-dependent communities be guaranteed? How do we achieve equitable development and conservation of forest lands, with the fair distribution of benefits between the state, local populations and private companies?
The solutions to these questions will entail radical changes in policy and new approaches to forest management. Forests Monitor is working to bring about these changes through:
- Providing accurate information to civil society and local populations on the activities of logging companies. This enables local communities to make informed decisions and lobby more effectively for change.
- Building technical capacity of both civil society and government in forest law enforcement and governance through the provision of training. Forest Monitorís capacity building programmes are designed to address specific weaknesses identified through consultation with partners. In this area of work, Forests Monitor works closely with Resource Monitoring Extraction (REM), a non-profit NGO which specializes in independent monitoring of extractive industries.
- Supporting the development of community forestry as a means to secure the rights of forest-dependent peoples and to enable them to pursue their own development goals.
- Lobbying for policy change and/or enforcement of existing policies that will support forest management that really contributes to poverty alleviation.
The work of Forests Monitor is framed by a range of international policy processes. These include those linked directly to forests as well as those related to biodiversity conservation, development, climate change and trade. Some of the key policies that inform our work are:
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC): Within the framework of this Convention, negotiations are underway to explore options for including forests within an international agreement on climate change. This includes the development of financial mechanisms to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (known by the acronym REDD).
For any REDD mechanism to be effective, the rights and needs of forest-dependent and indigenous communities must be addressed. Also critical will be effective forest governance. This will entail, among many other aspects, reform and implementation of the law, as well as the establishment of systems to monitor changes in forest cover and quality and to ensure the equitable distribution of any benefits.
Forests Monitor has been following these negotiations and is exploring ways in which its expertise can help ensure that forest carbon initiatives, such as REDD, would operate in such a way as to ensure equity and accountability.
The Forests Principles (the Non-Legally Binding Authoritative Statement of Principles for a Global Consensus on the Management, Conservation and Sustainable Development of all types of Forests): Forests Monitor is guided in particular by Forests Principle 2(c): "The provision of timely, reliable and accurate information on forests and forest ecosystems is essential for public understanding and informed decision making and should be ensured."
The Millenium Development Goals: Forests Monitorís work seeks to contribute to the achievement of the 7th Millennium Development Goal, to ensure environmental sustainability. This includes the targets to reduce biodiversity loss, slow deforestation and contain rising greenhouse gas emissions.
The Convention on Biological Diversity: The CBD includes a programme of work dedicated to forest biodiversity. This programme has a number of goals, of which those of particular interest to Forests Monitor include: promoting the sustainable use of forest resources, including through the support of indigenous and local communities to manage forests; and promoting the fair and equitable sharing of benefits resulting from the use of these resources and of associated traditional knowledge.
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