REM Independent Forest Monitoring in the Republic of Congo (Congo Brazzaville)

Mandated Independent Monitoring of Forest Law Enforcement and Governance (IM-FLEG) in support of FLEGT VPAs in the Congo Basin

Between 2006-2014, REM was the Mandated Independent Monitoring of Forest Law Enforcement and Governance in the Republic of Congo. The project was implemented in partnership with Forests Monitor and CAGDF – a Congolese NGO established by the shadow team trained by FM and REM during the project.

Government request for monitoring

"The Congo Basin contains the second largest area of tropical rainforest in the world after the Amazon Basin. Renowned for its biodiversity, this forest is perceived as a potential source of profit by governments and is allocated to individuals, national and international companies for harvesting. A large part of timber extracted is sold to Europe and Asia, where it is made into furniture and other items and eventually finds its way to our homes. The public has grown concerned about buying timber that contributes to forest destruction, but is confused about purchasing options. International pressure has mounted for the industry at large to comply with national laws. As for companies in the region moving towards good practice and maybe even the certification of their timber, they have complained that their efforts are undermined by unfair competition, and a poor international image of their sector due to illegal operations.

The Government of the Republic of Congo has taken a major step to increase law enforcement, and made an unprecedented request to include local NGOs in its efforts. A long-term project of Independent Monitoring of Forest Law Enforcement answering this request has been designed by the British NGOs Resource Extraction Monitoring and Forests Monitor in collaboration with the Congolese Ministry of Forest Economy and Environment, as a result of two successful scoping missions..."

Ministry of Forest Economy and Environment, Republic of Congo, 2006

Read the full letter here

REM monitoring results in Congo Brazzaville

REM workshop CongoA large number of illegal activities go undetected/unpunished. The Departmental Directorates of Water and Forests (DDEF) in the 11 departments recorded only 92 statements of offence against forestry companies in 2011,which could lead one to assume that logging operators are now acting increasingly within the law. In actual fact, this is a reflection of a weak level of enforcement. For example in 2011 REM observed 57 illegal activities during just 3 investigations.

In response to REM investigations in the departments of Niari and Likouala, the Forest Administration issued 19 notifications of offence against 9 forestry companies.

Some findings

  • Insufficient enforcement: no enforcement missions: no enforcement missions
    to 60% of concessions
  • A large number of illegalities go undetected/unpunished
  • Taxes and fines are not systematically collected: around 7.2 million euros remained unpaid in 2011

Main activities carried out by REM

  • Field missions, analysis of administrative processes, and multi-stakeholder meetings.
  • Training work sessions, joint outputs with civil society representatives, national work sessions in target countrie , and continued training of CAGDF team in the Republic of Congo
  • Missions in the Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo and Gabon to undertake monitoring activities
  • Publication of investigation and analysis reports, training outputs and mission findings

Objectives achieved

  • Mandated monitoring undertaken by local experts/civil society representatives
  • Information on illegal logging activities and gaps in State control is available
  • Documentation of illegal logging by forest law enforcement services is improved
  • Actions are taken on cases of illegal activities in the Forest Sector, sanctions paid
  • Transparency in administrative processes of forest law enforcement is increased

In the Congo basin

  • Civil society implementation of monitoring missions and reports diffused
  • Civil society participation in and understanding of regional processes concerning illegal logging increased
  • Link established between external monitoring, mandated monitoring missions and forest processes
  • Information about the forest sector available to the public

This project was 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 REM, and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the EU or DfID.