- Law enforcement: Targeted advocacy efforts by GASHE and APEM, in response to an alert sent by a community in Equateur Province, led to the first ever prosecution of a forestry company under the DRC Forest Code. The two organisations were crucial in keeping media attention focused on the case, and used this leverage to ensure that authorities took action against the company. While the case is still ongoing, this has sent a vital message to other forest operators in the country that the state will prosecute illegalities..
- Legal reform: Thanks to GASHE’s training and awareness raising with the authorities, the Environment Ministry passed new legislation recognising community forest monitoring, and information collected in real time. This vital step has further legitimised the work of forest monitors, ensuring that local monitors can refer to the law when challenged on their right to monitor their territory.
- Community empowerment: The level of engagement from local communities has been exceptional. They have been courageous in denouncing illegalities and demanding respect for their rights, and have invested their time and limited resources to monitor their forests effectively. Their work has inspired neighbouring communities too, with whom they have shared their knowledge and training.
- Enhanced government oversight: Prior to the project commencing in 2015, authorities were conducting company site visits every two to three years, usually at the behest of the companies themselves. However, with the information provided by ForestLink as well as advocacy efforts from communities and partners, the authorities are now accompanying civil society on independent investigations four times a year.are now accompanying civil society on independent investigations four times a year.
“We have been enlightened and now the loggers can no longer make us believe [just] anything and take us as ignorant. We know what is allowed in the forest and what is not. We also know what is due to us and how to claim it”
A statement by a local community member of Ingende in DRC
“Without this training provided by GASHE, the local committees would have difficulties in managing community development funds. The knowledge we have just acquired will help us avoid the mistakes of the past.”
Mr. Nkelentale Bolongo, head of the Bokatola sector, participating in the training of local management and monitoring committees on the management of the Community development fund.
“It opened our eyes, taught us what we needed to know. We began to benefit.”
DRC, Community Member
“This project has given us a voice. When we make statements, the statements are aired on Tele5, and on the environment- related channels.”
DRC, Associated partner
“Before we thought that independent observations must be the best, but the project has demonstrated that local communities can contribute significantly to forest monitoring”
DRC, Associate Partner
“Illegal logging is a serious threat to forest communities in DRC. ForestLink real-time monitoring is about giving them innovative tools and advocacy support to better defend their rights and their lands.”
Joseph Bolongo, Real-Time Monitoring Project Coordinator, GASHE
“The knowledge we’ve gained during this (real-time monitoring and advocacy) training will allow us to claim our rights peacefully.”
Benkita, community monitor, DRC