How it works
ForestLink unites technological innovations with the on-the-ground knowledge of local communities and indigenous peoples. Our local partners train communities on their human rights, national laws and how to identify illegal logging activities. The application is simple to use, highly secure, and allows voices from the forest to reach those responsible for enforcing the law.
The application is available in multiple languages and can be adapted to monitor whatever communities choose – palm oil or rubber plantations, human rights abuses or illegal mining. Unlike other phone-based monitoring tools, ForestLink also incorporates satellite technology, allowing communities to send and receive low-cost, instantaneous messages from the most remote areas in the world.
MONITORING & COLLECTION
Community monitors use a smartphone app (Collectaur) to collect evidence of illegalities and to document their alerts using photos, videos or audio recordings.
REPORTING & DATABASE
The collected evidence is transmitted to a secure database using a portable satellite transmitter or via SMS or internet.
Once the transmitted alerts are received on the online platform (Monitaur), they are analysed and verified by partner organisations.
Details of the illegal activities are passed on to the appropriate authorities so they can take action, such as sanctioning illegal operators.
The data collected using ForestLink helps local CSOs carry out follow-up activities with local authorities in order to foster increased transparency and good governance.
What makes it different
The technology itself runs on a smartphone-enabled app called Collectaur, used by community monitors to send alerts to an online platform called Monitaur. Monitaur is used by civil society coordinators and local verifiers to analyse and verify these alerts before passing verified alerts to local law enforcement for follow up.
Together, Collectaur and Monitaur form a fast, powerful, and effective tool used to identify illegalities occuring in the forest, and thus to support forest authorities in their forest management and monitoring processes.
We give forest communities everything they need to monitor their forests and send alerts when needed. This includes a smartphone, a satellite modem, solar panel (for phone charging) and a community hub for storing recordings at the site of infraction.
The satellite modem is particularly important because it allows monitors to send geo-referenced alerts from places with no internet or mobile network coverage – a common challenge for many communities throughout the Congo Basin.
Collectaur is an intuitive and powerful application that allows communities to collect accurately geo-referenced information on illegalities. Simple questionnaires and an icon-based interface allow communities to easily classify and describe the illegality in question, attach pictures and other evidence, and help partners to quickly identify the nature of the alert.The user interface is increasingly icon-based to ensure that less literate members of the community can use the app.
Having a central platform to aggregate data also allows identifying illegal trends in the logging and mining industries, in an unprecedented way. It can also show patterns of corruption, for example where lack of enforcement from officials on community alerts may be evidence of collusion with illegal loggers.
A two-way communication system allows community members to be kept up-to-date on the status of the alerts they have sent and the response of forest authorities. This system also enables partners to transmit satellite-derived deforestation alerts to communities so they can investigate.