The forest sector is particularly vulnerable to poor governance including corruption, fraud, and organised crime. Illegality in the sector generates vast sums of money and has helped fuel long and bloody conflicts. Even in countries that have good forest laws, implementation is weak and can be bypassed by powerful corporate and political interests that facilitate illegal production of timber. The consequences of illegal logging are well known: rapid deforestation, social disruption and loss of tax revenues. Even when not illegal, there is little evidence that industrial logging helps to reduce poverty in timber producing countries. Links between the logging industry and human rights abuses are, however, widely documented.
Is Independent Forest Monitoring a chance for improved governance in VPA countries? Here are the lessons learned from Cameroon, Ghana, Liberia, and the Republic of the Congo.