The original four pilot countries were selected on the basis that Global Witness already had strong working partnerships in each of them with key national NGOs working on forest governance. This meant that the development of the report card was based on a strong institutional foundation.
Nonetheless, the state of the forest sector is very different in each of these countries:
In Liberia, following 14 years of civil war the forest sector has new forest laws and an industry eager to re-start. In 2006, an Executive Order was brought into force to cancel all logging concessions, and since then, in the last year, the first seven large concessions have been allocated through a flawed competitive process. However, the legislative status of customary lands remains unclear, and the forest authority struggles to meet commitments to transparency and the rule of law.
Ghana, in contrast to Liberia, has little 'commercially viable' natural forest left. All forests are called 'Stool Lands', meaning they belong to traditional communities, but the state 'manages them on the peoples behalf'. Over the decades this has resulted in a clear shift in power from communities to the state. Despite efforts to bring discipline and a competitive market for access to the resource through reforms in the concession allocation system, the sector remains 'captured' by vested interests. More recently, the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) with the EU has provided opportunities to rectify this.
Cameroon forest law operates under the Francophone Africa tradition of administrative bureaucracy and legal systems, in contrast to Ghana and Liberia. Since in the francophone system the legal concept of 'clan land' does not exist all forest is owned by the state, in conflict with customary tenure of generations of people living in the forests. The forest law distinguishes between 'permanent production forests', the total area of which is never supposed to diminish, and 'non-permanent' (degraded) forests. It only provides for the establishment of community forests in degraded forest areas on a temporary basis.
In Peru, the forest sector is operated rather differently. The system is less concession-based than in Africa, with a far greater number and diversity of small permits. However, the country has recently seen major legislative changes in response to a Free Trade Agreement signed with the United States. Whilst a 'forests addenda' to the FTA was seen as a progressive step in many ways, the new forest law (and others) side-stepped normal consultation processes and significantly weakened environmental protections. This resulted in conflict and the revocation of a 2008 forest law.
In addition to these differences in how the forest sector is managed, there are also huge fundamental differences in terms of the size of the forest in each country and on the pressures upon it. Liberia has 30,000 km2 of forest, Cameroon ten times as much, and Perú 30 times as much. Liberia's annual GDP per capita is US$230, Perú's is US$4,400. Ghana has 400 people per km2 of forest, three times that of Liberia. Cameroon has 50 people per km2 of forest, and Perú has only 30 (World Bank, 2008; FAO 2005; see individual countries pages for details).
Country teams experimented with different methodologies and a broader set of indicators or respondent groups beyond the common set (see Report card structure.)
In Liberia, project partner SDI is monitoring and supporting the transparency provisions in the forest law to promote: (i) the legal establishment of secure community rights and tenure of forests; (ii) significant devolution of forest governance and management processes to communities; and (iii) transparent access to decision-making in the negotiation and implementation of a VPA. The project and report card focuses especially on strengthening governance within newly-established Community Forestry Development Committees. Given the community-level focus, the report card includes questions such as 'do you know the document exists?' and 'have you asked for it?' as well as the regular 'is it in the public domain?'.
In Ghana, CIKOD leads the project on behalf of the Forest Watch coalition. Emphasising local transparency and accountability, they also advocate for local government and traditional authorities to disclose their use of revenue from timber royalties. To date, CIKOD have worked with four grassroots NGOs in two selected districts to implement a set of questionnaire-based interviews directed at the forestry authorities, traditional authorities (chieftaincy), local government, timber companies and community members. Over 300 interviews were carried out in total, combining yes/no information with rating and perceptions questions.
A priority for CED and other local NGOs in Cameroon is greater participation in policy formulation, in particular concerning the VPA and reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) initiatives. CED is the most recent partner to Making the Forest Sector Transparent and, as such, has used the common set of indicators as their starting point. Their analysis is structured around questions such as 'what are the rules?', 'what are the limitations in these?' and 'what is the reality?' - emphasising that many good intentions on transparency fail to become a reality.
In Perú, DAR is focusing initially on strengthening the capacity of two autonomous public institutions -- the Ombudsman and the Environmental Attorney -- to hold government agencies to account on commitments to transparency and law enforcement. They have developed a sophisticated and extensive report card matrix, comprising five tables of data to monitor the performance of 15 organisations and assess transparency norms, access to participation and information, and the implementation of the Perú-US FTA. Data collection has been through a series of letters from DAR to the relevant institutions. The letters -- and the report card -- highlight the steps each authority is taking to implement its legal obligations to provide information.
Each country team have published their own wider research locally, as well as on the downloads page on this website.
For more details on each country team's methodology and results, click on countries at the top of the page.
For background information and contact details on the project partner click on the NGO names in each paragraph above.