The Forest Transparency Initiative
Lead by the World Resources Institute (WRI), the Forest Transparency Initiative (FTI) is a searchable repository of information on the logging and wood processing concessions and companies operating in forest rich countries of Central Africa – Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon and the Republic of Congo. The FTI targets making relevant, credible and up-to-date information on logging, wood processing and timber trading companies operating in Central Africa, publicly available to decision-makers, consumers and other forest/timber stakeholders through a one-stop shop website. This beta site is part of a pilot initiative to improve access to credible commercial forest sector information and seeks to help recognize in the marketplace those companies operating legally and according to recognized social and environmental norms, by offering all actors a verified means by which to communicate the nature and specific content of their operations. While largely targeting private timber operators, the FTI site seeks to set up a centralized portal for forest information on Central Africa, by engaging all interested forest stakeholders to use, critique and contribute to enriching content of the site.
Application of Forest Information
Working closely with the Central Africa Forestry Observatory (OFAC), private sector participants, governments, non-governmental organizations and research institutions, the FTI developed a preliminary set of indicators, organized according to broad thematic areas.
Moving forward, the FTI plans to expand on this initial base of information – with future content depending on the evolving exchange between the target audience and disclosing parties. Among the potential applications of FTI indicators, include:
- Forest Legality Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT): Once the specific legality reporting and monitoring structures are developed between the European Union and each exporting country (referred to as Voluntary Partnership Agreements—VPAs), the FTI will be an important tool for both importing and exporting countries/companies to help ensure that each is meeting their respective obligations.
- The United States Lacey Act: While not able to provide definitive proof of due diligence, the FTI could be a good jumping off point in providing specific legislative and regulatory context for each country, as well as for detailed information on specific companies and their timber permits or sawmills. Linking in-country timber suppliers to import markets would provide a strong incentive for company participation in the FTI. The FTI would allow companies who are either too small to support their own web site or not part of an official certification process, to distinguish themselves and connect with niche markets in importer countries.
- The EU’s 2010 Timber Regulation: Similar to those services provided for the U.S Lacey Act, the FTI will be an important portal for specific, detailed information on country-by-country legislative and regulatory context, as well as information on operators, logging permits and wood products from Central Africa.
- 3rd party monitoring/certifying of forest/logging concessions: In addition to providing critical company and site level information to parties interested in importing or exporting timber or timber products, the FTI is an important source of information on specific timber regulatory context, as well as on specific company obligations – information which greatly assist not only government (at times when this information is not easily accessible within their own bureaucracies) but also 3rd party monitoring or certifying bodies.
- Citizen access: Alongside providing links between those involved in the timber trade, the FTI is an important platform for access to forest sector information by the public. The FTI is the only site in existence where citizens of 5 forested countries of Central Africa can consult to get information on where logging permits are located, who is operating each permit, company contact information and what are the legal responsibilities of each operator.
Please feel free to contact WRI at one of the following addresses if you would like more details on the FTI or would like to offer suggestions or services to this process. As this is currently a beta site, please check back regularly for updates.
Forests – Central Africa
World Resources Institute
Forest Transparency Initiative