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Independent Monitoring of Forest Law Enforcement and Governance (IM-FLEG) Phase 2

Project Update

Forests Monitor and Resource Extraction Monitoring’s three year IM-FLEG project in the Republic of Congo completed its 1st phase in September 2010. The aim was to achieve better governance in the forestry sector and support an effective implementation of policies for sustainable forest management.

In 2010, the Republic of Congo signed with the European Commission a FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA), which aims to fight against illegal logging by allowing only legally harvested timber to enter the European market. (For more information on FLEGT VPAs, visit www.euflegt.efi.int/portal/home/vpa_countries). The VPA is based on the regulatory framework, as well as control and verification procedures, to ensure that all timber exported from Congo to the EU have been harvested, processed, transported and exported legally. It promotes the strengthening of the regulatory framework and forest control of producing countries, thus contributing to the sustainable management of the resource while reassuring consumers about the origin of end-products they buy.

“Serious problems of governance and law enforcement persist in all investigated areas”

The IM-FLEG in Congo helps to address the problems of legality of timber by compiling reliable information gathered during field investigations and from the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Forest Economy and Environment (MDDEFE) on specific issues of governance and forest crime. Over the past 4 years, our teams investigated with the help of responsible authorities and forest communities.

Our final briefing note covering the period from December 2006 to July 2010 presents the challenges faced during the previous phase of the project and prospects for the current phase, which begun in December 2010.

Despite encouraging signs regarding the political and technical capabilities available within the Congolese Forest Administration (FA), serious problems of governance and law enforcement persist in all investigated areas: forest control, forest revenues recovery, management planning, allocation and transfer of concessions, participation of civil society in forest management and, overall, compliance of logging activities with the legislation. In general, we can say that the forest control in place is unable to detect or prevent illegal activities due to few controls and sanctions. In such a system, logging companies complying with the law are disadvantaged compared to those acting illegally with impunity and by maximizing their productivity in the short-term. A firmer and more consistent approach in forest control would reduce illegal logging and allow forest companies to operate on a fairer basis.

Regarding the implementation of IM-FLEG, despite the good cooperation of the FA in terms of access to information and concession sites, which facilitated the achievement of independent investigations, recommendations need to be taken more into account and put into action by the FA. The absence of a formal mechanism to monitor the following of recommendations, added to poor communication about any actions taken, have greatly diluted the impact of IM-FLEG upon the improvement of current practices. The FA is putting a lot of energy into explaining the anomalies but much less into making decisions and acting to correct them.

Significant resources need to be allocated by the FA in order to be able to issue the first FLEGT licenses in 2011-2012 and demonstrate good governance within the REDD and other processes. Indeed, some key activities for the FLEGT-VPA implementation are significantly delayed from the original timetable or have not even started yet. Through the training of a shadow team, the IM-FLEG project helped the emergence of competent civil society actors to support and monitor government actions regarding the implementation of forest policies and law. This training will help promote good governance by bringing to the rulers’ attention the relevance and severity of the problems that beneficiaries face. Trained shadow team members were consolidated into one legal entity called CAGDF whose creation came in response to the desire to involve a national independent monitoring civil society organisation in the negotiation of the FLEGT-VPA.

In order to sustain the achievements of the IM-FLEG approach developed in the Republic of Congo over the last 4 years and the action undertaken in the context of the FLEGT-VPA implementation, CAGDF is the partner selected by Forests Monitor and REM for the second phase of their IM-FLEG project (2010-2012). The aim of that partnership is to continue the skills transfer to national experts in the field of independent monitoring and to pass the independent monitoring on to the local civil society.

If the overall objective of the IM-FLEG project is to contribute to transparency and governance improvement in the Congo Basin forest sector in the context of the FLEGT process implementation, the second phase specifically aims at implementation of IM-FLEG by the civil society in the Republic of Congo and increase of Congo Basin Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) capacity to participate in the negotiation or implementation of FLEGT VPAs through the development of IMFLEG mechanisms.

“The second phase focuses on transferring IM-FLEG skills to civil society”


Following 45 months of Independent Monitoring in the Republic of Congo, since December 2010 a new phase of IM-FLEG is being implemented by Forests Monitor in partnership with REM and CAGDF – a Congolese NGO established by the shadow team trained by FM and REM during the previous phase.

The 3-year-project Independent Monitoring of Forest Law Enforcement and Governance (IMFLEG), in support of the FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreements in the Congo Basin to reduce illegal logging, aims at contributing further to transparency and governance improvement in the Congo Basin forest sector.

The current phase of the project focuses on transferring IM-FLEG skills to civil society and strengthening its role within FLEGT VPA implementation. The specific objectives are 1) implementation of IMFLEG in RoC by civil society and 2) increase Congo Basin Civil Society Organisations’ capacity to participate in the negotiation or implementation of FLEGT VPAs through the development of IM-FLEG mechanisms.

To achieve those objectives, the project will provide further training and capacity building of civil society both at a national and sub-regional scale.

The project also continues the implementation of Independent Monitoring activities and provision of recommendations to the forest administration to improve forest law enforcement and governance.

In this section of the website you will find information on the project background and objectives, as well as regular updates on the progress of the project, training manuals, mission reports, and links to the sites of our partners and funders. Please use the menu to the right of the screen to navigate.

Funder's Site: EuropeAid Co-operation Office Home Page This project is implemented with financial assistance from the European Union, for an amount of 1,598,121 Euros, and the Department for International Development, for an amount of 400,000 Euros. Its content is the sole responsibility of Forests Moniter, and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the EU or DfID.

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This page was last updated on the 9th August 2011.

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