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Welcome to Forest Forces

Forest Forces is about protecting nature by making alliances: connecting local forces with national justice forces and supported by international forces.

Forest Forces is about combining (ancient) local knowledge, such as from indigenous communities, with (modern) scientific knowledge, such as from criminology and GPS technology.

Forest Forces is about applying scientific concepts and best practices of criminology in order to combat and especially prevent forest and wildlife crime, such as based on the criminological concept of situational crime prevention. 

Our Objective:

Preserving and protecting tropical rainforests together with traditional communities by empowering them with science and technology, and access to the justice system.

 

The challenge

While international agreements and regulations exists to stop deforestation in the Amazon, the reality on the ground is that illegal logging (for timber) and deforestation (for agriculture) continue. In 2014, in order to compensate for the lack of local forest monitoring, we set up a project of GPS forest community watch on several hotspots of illegal logging and deforestation (for cattle and soy) in Brazil’s Para state, known for its high (illegal) deforestation rates and high levels of violence against forest community leaders.

The initiatives

Access to Justice

The idea of GPS supported community-based forest monitoring and forest crime prevention was born during a scientific green criminology project in Brazil (2010-2016), funded by the Dutch NWO-WOTRO Science for Global Development Program. It was set up in collaboration with Brazilian universities and NGOs to identify and reduce social and environmental harm, including crime. The development strategy focused on access to justice and improving the rule of law.

In 2014, we first equipped various traditional communities that live near deforestation hotspots with water proof GPS cameras, solar chargers and power bank. It allows them to take pictures of illegal forest activities.

Crowdfunding

The activities of Forest Forces are possible thanks to crowd funding; initially by alumni from Utrecht University, followed by donations from people from different countries – so far, mainly Brazil and The Netherlands.

Summary

Read this recently published article which explains what we do and why: GPS supported community-based forest crime prevention in the Brazilian Amazon (on the website Oxford Martin Programme on the Illegal Wildlife Trade, University of Oxford, November 2018).

The progress

Local forest protection

GPS referenced pictures have enabled several traditional communities to stop  and especially prevent illegal logging and small scale deforestation. Brazilian authorities such as  the Public Prosecutor’s Office have welcomed the possibility of using GPS-referenced pictures as possible proof of illegal forest activities.

The most obvious success was in Maró Indigenous Community (T.I. Maró) in the state of Pará. GPS cameras allowed their surveillance team to collect GPS-evidence of illegal logging activities within their territory. Eventually, eight logging concession were cancelled and several timber companies were expelled from their Indigenous Territory, with impacts for long-term deterrence of illegal forest activities.

This project exemplifies how local forest protection, even in remote areas without electricity and telephone, can be carried out effectively and inexpensively by supporting communities with access to trusted law enforcement actors.

The model can be replicated in other areas, especially in indigenous and other areas with GPS borders. We intend to intend to expand, in Brazil and elsewhere. But we need your help. Please support Forces Forces!

 

 

The team

Tim Boekhout van Solinge MA PhD, is a criminologist, researcher, lecturer and consultant.

In 2016, Tim left the academic world in order to dedicate himself more tot the preservation of tropical rainforest, amongst others by expanding the system of local forest monitoring with GPS cameras which he started in 2014.
We wish to expand this promising project of GPS supported forest community monitoring. We also wish to make this project more international as it concerns a truly international issue: the products that drive logging and deforestation in the Amazon (beef, soy, timber) are mainly for export markets. The demand side of this market should also be addressed if we want to halt deforestation such as in the Amazon.