The information published by state institutions can be vital for decision-making and citizen participation. For this reason, information produced on the forest sector must be organised and used in an integrated way. Greater transparency means the population has greater trust in the institution and, consequently, there is more participation, openness to dialogue and fewer conflicts and corruption.
The public bodies with responsibilities in the forest sector have recorded a certain degree of progress, but they still have a long way to go. They need to work harder on the efficiency of the administration and conservation of the forests, and on compliance with the Transparency Law. Only this will help to generate good forest governance, reduce corruption and conflicts, and build an efficient State with credible public bodies.
Some progress has been made in the levels of transparency and access to information by the public institutions with responsibilities in the forest sector, but this progress is still insignificant because it is very slow. In many cases websites do not have up-to-date or complete information, and in some cases the topic of transparency appears to have stagnated altogether, possibly because in practice there is no real monitoring of this topic by the State itself. The Congress of the Republic and the Office of the Auditor General of the Republic should take on a genuine commitment to monitor public institutions in relation to transparency and access to information, and take the appropriate measures if there is a failure to comply with the law.
There are regulatory instruments which strengthen transparency in the public sector on a general level and specifically in the forest environment, although implementation by regulations for the Forest and Wildlife Law and validation of the National Forest Policy are still lacking. However, the political will is there, and a start has been made on a participatory process to draw up and then approve these instruments. If there is to be a clear policy in the forest sector that does not have to be deduced from associated regulations or management plans, it is necessary - given the re-launch of the process for strengthening the forest sector through the publication of the Guide to Methodology - for the Policy to be brought to fruition.
As part of the strengthening of the forest sector, provision has been made for participative drafting of the proposal for a National System for Forest and Wildlife Management (SINAFOR), considering a General Participative Process; this is complemented and articulated with the work of an Intergovernmental Group in close cooperation with the Regional Governments to design the National Forest and Wildlife Service (SERFOR), which will be approved by the Ministry of Agriculture. Because of the decentralisation process, the decisions on the forest sector at a regional level will be of greater relevance and impact for this sector than on a national level.
Despite the discrepancies within the indigenous movement, a great step forward was taken with approval and publication of the Regulation for the Law on Prior Consultation of Indigenous Peoples, which is expected to provide more inclusive forest management, consolidating governance and genuine participation and decision-making which respects their own vision of development.
There continue to be difficulties with access to the regulatory and technical instruments by populations living in outlying forest areas, as these communities are remote and have no access to the internet. Furthermore, those instruments which are published on the web are not in an appropriate, simple and understandable language, nor are they translated into indigenous languages; this needs to change if inclusion of these historically marginalised sectors of the population is to be consolidated.
Civil society must use its right of access to public information, considering that it is not enough just to have the information available: the key aspect is the use made of that information. On this point, it is the duty of both citizens and civil society organisations to demand and exercise our right of access to public information, which might help to encourage greater citizen and community participation. In addition, citizens can monitor the people governing them better if they are informed in an appropriate and timely way.
Donors have an important role to play in financing the projects which are being carried out, which is why the objectives and results must be presented in public on a decentralised level, so that the impacts of the activities which will be carried out and how these activities will improve the management and administration of the forest sector can be known. In this way, not only would it be drawn up in a document belonging to the donating organisation, but also the information collected would be shared and published for the population and the communities, which could be used to receive recommendations and enrich the project.