Press Release / July 28, 2005

Global Witness launches Guide to Independent Forest Monitoring (IFM)

Global Witness (2) today launches 'A Guide to Independent Forest Monitoring' (3), the definitive guide to IFM for governments, donors, and NGOs, based on its pioneering work in Cambodia and Cameroon. The Guide is launched at the Illegal Logging Update and Stakeholder Consultation meeting at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House, London (4).

IFM delivers legally robust evidence with which governments can take action against illegal forest activity. Moreover, by observing official forest law enforcement activities independent monitors pinpoint weaknesses in regulation which undermine the rule of law. In Cameroon, since IFM started there in 2000, at least US$7.5million has been levied by the State against illegal operators (5). In Cambodia, Global Witness continues to expose the institutional corruption which characterises the forest sector (6). David Young of Global Witness said at the launch meeting: 'Whilst governments around the world endeavour to formulate and implement policies on legal and responsible forestry, IFM highlights where their words and deeds are inconsistent'.

As a result of its proven efficacy in improving forest law enforcement and eliminating illegal logging there has been interest in IFM from timber producing countries as well as those importing timber. 'This Guide is particularly timely as governments around the world seek to improve transparency and objectivity in the functions of the state', state Global Witness in the Foreword to the book.

It is essential that this interest needs is supported by effective, practical measures to bring about irreversible improvements to the control and regulation of forestry activities. Governments and the private sector have role in this, but civil society oversight, as provided by initiatives such as IFM, are required to maintain credibility.

The Guide aims to meet this increasing demand for IFM around the world by building the professionalism of monitors and potential monitors as well as those who fund and those who host IFM. The Guide provides a detailed step-by-step description of IFM design, emphasising the official-yet-independent status of the monitor. It then covers implementation issues including practical aspects of field investigations and writing and publishing authoritative and objective reports.

David Young concluded, 'For IFM to be an effective tool in assessing the extent of illegality in the sector, the highest standards of professionalism and independence are essential. Through publication of this Guide, Global Witness is committed to continue IFM work and support governments around the world to enforce appropriate laws and fight illegal logging and corruption in the sector'.

For further information, please contact David Young on +44 20 7561 6392 or +44 7854 047826.

(1) IFM is the use of an independent third party, which, by agreement with the state authorities, provides an assessment of legal compliance in the forest sector, and observation of and guidance on official forest law enforcement systems.

(2) Global Witness is a British-based non-governmental organisation, which focuses on the links between natural resource extraction and conflict.

(3) Hardcopies in English are available from Global Witness. Please see for soft copies. French and Spanish versions of the guide will be available in September 2005.

(4) Please see for further information about Illegal Logging Update meetings.

(5) For further details please see Global Witness' report 'Forest Law Enforcement in Cameroon: Third Summary Report of the Independent Observer, July 2003 - February 2005' available in French and English from Global Witness or from

(6) See for example Global Witness' latest report 'Taking a Cut - Institutionalised Corruption and Illegal Logging in Cambodia's Aural Wildlife Sanctuary' available from Global Witness or from