Liberia tropical rainforest. Creative Commons: USAID, 2007.

Smartphone Monitoring in Liberian Rainforests

July 11, 2015

Smartphone Monitoring in Liberian Rainforests

This project will support Goldman Prize winner Silas Siakor’s efforts to protect Liberia’s forest from destructive palm oil plantation expansion and illegal logging with innovative smartphone technology that empowers communities to monitor and report illegal deforestation activities.

Over 40 percent of the rainforest of West Africa is found within the borders of Liberia, and many of the local communities rely on the abundance of these forests for the basic survival of their families. Today, as global demand for resources such as timber, oil, and industrial scale agriculture grows and developing countries grow desperate for economic growth, Liberia’s forests are quickly shrinking.

Recently government agreements were made with the EU and Norway to set aside 30% or more of Liberia’s forest as protected areas, cancel all illegal logging contracts, and reduce emissions from deforestation by 2020. Local leader Silas Siakor will be capitalizing on this public commitment to protect forests, by empowering local citizens through citizen reporting and strategic advocacy.

Using a new smartphone application called TIMBY (“This is My Back Yard”), the project will train and equip members of community forest governance institutions to participate in monitoring illegal deforestation activities in their communities. Together they will report their findings to the government leaders in Liberia, the EU and the Norwegian government, as well as international organizations and the media in order to hold the Liberian government accountable for the public commitment that was made to protect their forests.

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