How the research was carried out
The 2011 Report Card consists of 20 indicators related to themes of forest management. The search for and collection of information for the report card was carried out between August and December 2011. This process started by monitoring of the websites of a group of selected institutions related to the forest sector.
To complement the research stage and generate a more holistic report, an attempt was made to include the views of forest specialists and civil society organisations that provided a greater appreciation of the forest sector in Ecuador due to their work in the sector and their expertise. This process was also replicated with civil servants from the Ministry of the Environment (Programa Socio Bosque, National Forest Directorate, Secretariat of Climate Change) and the Heritage Ministry, who were shown the components of the Transparency Report in order to compile comments which helped to give deeper understanding of how the sector works.
The forest sector in Ecuador has a particular composition that is different to the other countries focused on in the Making the Forest Sector Transparent programme. For this reason, it was decided that questions 11 and 12 in the report, which refer to forest concessions and the legal requirements for consultation of interested parties before granting permits for logging with commercial purposes, was not applicable to the national context, given that in Ecuador there are no public allocation processes for forestry operations.
Institutions of the Forest Sector
Twelve institutions were selected to monitor with direct or indirect links to the forest sector. Although the authority for management of forest resources corresponds to the Ministry of the Environment, there are other institutions which have links on different levels with natural resources and should also be analysed. However, three institutions stand out from this group, and their mission is detailed below:
- Ministry for Coordination of Heritage: To propose, coordinate and monitor heritage policies, plans and programmes carried out by the ministries and institutions in the Sectoral Council, through processes of information, technical support, follow-up and evaluation, as well as encouraging emblematic projects which contribute to fulfilment of the National Welfare Plan (Ministry for Coordination of Heritage, 2011).
- Ministry of Environment: To exercise effectively and efficiently the role of the national environmental authority, guiding Ecuador's environmental management, and guaranteeing a healthy and ecologically balanced environment (Ministry of Environment, 2011).
- Ministry of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries: this is the Institution which guides the agricultural sector, responsible for regulating, facilitating, monitoring and forming the management of the country's agricultural, livestock, forest, fishing and aquaculture production. The Ministry, under the Sub-Secretariat of Forestry Production, has jurisdiction over the generation of policies for productive reforestation and forest development.(Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Aquaculture and Fisheries, 2011).
The link to the rest of the selected institutions is less evident and more indirect; detailed below are the reasons why they were included in the analysis:
- Internal Revenue Service: This is the institution responsible for collecting the internal taxes established by Law. Forest operations are an economic activity for which a tax return and payment of taxes are compulsory for those making a profit from this resource. It is also responsible for charging taxes on rural lands.
- People's Ombudsman: Defends the rights of citizens and nature. This includes monitoring compliance with the Organic Law of Transparency and Access to Public Information (LOTAIP)
- Ecuador Central Bank: Seeks to promote and contribute to the country's economic stability. As part of its statistics it includes data on exports of forest products.
- Ministry of Finance: This is the national financial authority. Its monitoring allows access to the budget details for the sector to evaluate the weight of the sector compared to the remaining sectors of the economy and the levels of implementation and prioritisation of the institutions associated with the environment.
- Institute for the Eco-Development of the Amazon Region: This seeks to design and execute a strategy agreed with the local, national and international players, based on a system of evaluation and accountability, to achieve sustainable development of the Ecuadorian Amazon Region. (ECORAE ; 2011)
- National Water Secretariat: The administration of water resources involves good management of the hydrographic basin and consequently of the forest resource.
- Association of Municipalities in Ecuador (AME): This stimulates strengthening of management and local governance, through processes of cooperation, assistance, skills and specialist advice; for compliance with the mandates of the Constitution of the Republic and the current legal framework. (AME;2011)
- National Secretariat of Planning and Development (SENPLADES): This is the organisation which guides planning and is key to understanding mechanisms for participative planning on sectoral and territorial levels.
- Ecuador Consortium of Provincial Councils (CONCOPE): This is a think-tank and centre for action for orientating and strengthening the actions of the intermediate governments, in order to contribute to the governability, fairness and development of the country. (CONCOPE;2011)
- Council for Citizen Participation and Social Monitoring (CPCCS): This seeks to promote the exercise of citizen's participation rights and social monitoring of public affairs, establish anticorruption mechanisms and policies, and designate the corresponding authorities according to the law. (CPCCS; 2011).
Methods of Searching for and Registering Information
The search for information in the aforementioned institutions is based on Article 91 of the current Constitution (2008) and particularly on the Organic Law for Transparency and Access to Public Information - LOTAIP in Spanish (2004).
On the basis of the LOTAIP criteria, the search focused on analysing the information available on the institutions' websites using their individual search engines. These first results were strengthened with searches through specific search engines (Lexis legal regulation search engine - a system of legal information which employs an IT platform. This system is not free access, as use requires payment of a licence). This allowed access in particular to forest regulations and decrees which were not published on the websites.
Finally, for registration of the information compiled, the ZOTERO program was used for online creation of bibliographical lists.