WRI and Norway Partner on Forest Legality and Transparency

Author(s)

James Anderson

WRI and the Norwegian International Climate and Forest Initiative (NICFI) are partnering on a new initiative, “Removing Transparency and Legality Obstacles to Implementing REDD+: Mobilizing New Technologies to Combat Illegal Logging and Associated Trade.

Timber and paper are among the world’s most commonly used and traded commodities. Although legal, sustainable forestry can be a positive force for development, in many regions illegal logging has had devastating impacts. It contributes to deforestation, biodiversity loss and greenhouse gas emissions, deprives nations of much needed public revenue, and can lead to social conflict and human rights violations.­­ REDD+ holds promise for helping countries transition to sustainable forest management, but illegal logging and the associated trade threatens to undermine progress.

WRI’s Forest Legality Initiative, NICFI, and a range of local and global partners will work together to empower those who work to prevent illegal logging.

The new initiative will:

  • Improve how forest information and wood supply chains are managed in Indonesia, Peru and the Congo Basin.
  • Help stop the illegal timber trade by encouraging companies, governments, and civil society to adopt new wood identification technologies.
  • Empower independent forest monitors to collect and share information on illegal logging and the illegal wood trade, and work with governments and companies to use that information to improve practices.

The project will include support for the Open Timber Portal (OTP), a forthcoming platform that will make public previously inaccessible information about on-the-ground management practices and compliance with timber legality requirements. It will compile information from three sources: official concession boundaries and the list of registered forest operators from the government, documents uploaded voluntarily by forest operators, and observations by third-party forest monitors. The OTP will initially focus on the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Congo and will progressively expand coverage to other relevant timber producing countries, starting with Gabon, Cameroon and the Central African Republic in 2018. You can sign up for updates at www.opentimberportal.org.

Hon. Kåre R. Aas, Ambassador of Norway to the United States, said, “They say that if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. That goes for illegal activities too. An important part of this initiative is increased transparency, tracking and documenting illegal activities, and being able to identify illegal logging.”

By bringing the power of new technologies to bear on the problem of illegal logging, this project can pave the way for a more sustainable world in which people and forests can prosper together.