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Recommendations

The main recommendations for Making the Forest Sector Transparent are drawn out in this section. They are presented as generic recommendations, but of course their relevance varies somewhat depending on the country-specific context. The recommendations prepared by the partners for their country are set out in their specific reports. They are addressed to the main groups of stakeholders

To governments and their forest authorities

Forest authorities and other government institutions should:

  • Prioritise the passage of Freedom of Information legislation where it does not currently exist, and establish rigorous, well resourced procedures - such as information management systems and independent commissioners - where it does to ensure that institutions meet their obligations under the law
  • Specify commitments to transparency and access to information in norms for the forest sector, including minimum information standards, and develop integrated information systems for producing and sharing data
  • Ensure that all new forest policies and laws are crafted through open and meaningful discussion with civil society, including indigenous and forest peoples.
  • Develop further the forums and working groups from national to local levels that have been initiated for recent processes such as the VPAs, so that they are formally constituted and legally recognised parts of decision-making on forest-related issues
  • Systematically place in the public domain all contracts, agreements and other supplementary documents such as due diligence reports pertaining to concessions and permits that are allocated for forest operations
  • Provide forest management plans to the public, in particular so that local communities can access them, which allow them to know (i) the locations of logging or other operations at any particular time; (ii) the locations of areas where logging is not permitted, for conservation or cultural reasons, for example; (iii) quotas of the volume of timber to be extracted; and (iv) the actual volumes extracted
  • Revise forest management plans periodically in consultation with affected communities so that they recognise emerging threats to the forest, and potential harm to local livelihoods
  • Disseminate regular, comprehensive reports with information and data on forest activities, including lists of concessions and permits, allocation of revenues to different parties (including amounts distributed to the authority), and details of infractions and suspended or debarred operators
  • End the use of all of forms of unaccountable permit allocations, such as small title or salvage systems, unless they are structured in a way that minimises the impact on the environment and community, optimises the return to the state (or other owner) and are periodically subject to review with collective information provided to stakeholders and local people
  • Develop processes for strategic environmental assessment that informs stakeholders and the public on the different development options, and set out clear, consistent legal parameters for deciding on allocations to mining, oil, agro-industry and other sectors on forest land or neighbouring areas
  • Avoid committing public land and forests to concessions for 'carbon storage' until a regulatory framework has been established that clarifies the rights and benefit sharing arrangements of these initiatives
  • Pass legislation that recognises the right of free prior informed consent of citizens, in particular indigenous and forest peoples, regarding forest-related activities that affect them
  • Develop a long-term strategy for managing their resource base, prepared in an open and consultative way, which details a transparent decision-making process for deciding trade-offs between different extractive industries and forest-based land use
  • Implement a process of land tenure regularisation that recognises customary rights and provides security for sustainable management by communities of all forest resources and environmental services

To CSOs and communities

Organised civil society should:

  • Develop activities for obtaining and summarising information on forest issues from central institutions and disseminating it to rural communities through more accessible media methods such as newspaper articles, radio programmes and summary leaflets
  • Support citizens to use Freedom of Information and other similar legislation to make information requests
  • Work across stakeholders to determine priority information needs so that coordinated demands for greater transparency can be made and information can be shared and used more constructively
  • Promote further transparency and accountability in non-state institutions, such as traditional authorities or community-based organisations, so that they are open and representative
  • Develop coalitions with wider NGOs and community-based organisations advocating on issues related to the environment, resources and land, including indigenous people associations, in order to coordinate campaigns for transparency and the right to information

To donors and the international community

Donors and the international community should provide support to both governments and civil society in pursuit of the above recommendations. They should:

  • Ensure that specific commitments to transparency form part of all future international agreements, including Voluntary Partnership Agreements, REDD+ agreements and others.
  • Maintain pressure on governments to meet obligations in international agreements, for example by providing a public-access portal to forest management or chain of custody databases.

 

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