Monitoring forest law enforcement already exists in one form or another in numerous countries and contexts, as the forest sector appears particularly vulnerable to problems of poor governance. Logging requires a low minimum level of investment – a chainsaw and some transport – but the value of the product is high. Forests are therefore vulnerable to exploitation of both the resource itself and local populations, who may have few other livelihood options. In a downward spiral, poor governance allows corruption, fraud and organised crime to flourish through illegal logging and associated trade. The consequences are well known: unsustainable forest exploitation and resulting environmental damage, social disruption, at times leading to conflict, and downward pressure on timber prices.
Independent Forest Monitoring (IFM) represents a unique approach to assessing
and strengthening legal compliance in the forest
sector. By complementing official forest law enforcement
with the objectivity and public credibility
of an independent third party, IFM can improve
transparency in the short term while contributing to
the development of a sound legislative and regulatory
framework for responsible forest management.