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Learning by doing

Commitments to responsible forest management and agriculture are growing in importance in West and Central Africa, but the scarcity of skilled and experienced local practitioners makes it difficult to implement them.

DFID | 2014 — ongoing

Governments, companies and NGOs all need local experts with specialist skills to help them meet international standards for responsible production. Through our Africa Regional Office, Proforest and three partners established the Africa Practitioners Network (APN) in 2014 to build this capacity.

By combining formal training courses with mentored practical experience in the field, we are developing a pool of competent, local professionals with the environmental, social and auditing skills needed for effective planning, implementation and monitoring of accepted best practice requirements.

Working with partners

Our private sector and NGO partners are instrumental in providing opportunities for trainees to gain practical experience in real field situations. An increasing number of organisations have expressed interest in our training and in 2014 we engaged with 58 organisations in six countries of the region. Drawing on our network of partners in the private and non-governmental sectors, we worked with six companies and four other organisations to provide training courses and practical field sessions for 23 trainees. By the end of 2014, some trainees had already started to put their new skills to work as consultant auditors and peer reviewers.

At the inaugural meeting of the Network in Accra in December 2014, Rainforest Alliance, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Tropenbos, Cameroon Forest Certification Initiative, Client Earth, WWF-Cameroon, Resource Trust and several other organisations affirmed their commitment to work with the Africa Practitioners Network in the future.

An alumnus says

I lead a regional project to support implementation of the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade Voluntary Partnership Agreement (FLEGT/VPA), in West and Central Africa. Although I completed an FSC Forest Management and Chain of Custody Lead Auditor course in 2012 I had few opportunities to practice these skills in the field. Now, through the Africa Practitioners Network, I have participated as a trainee auditor and observer in a couple of assessments under experienced mentors. I was recently appointed as a part-time Rainforest Alliance Consultant Auditor and I will form part of their audit teams from 2015. Eric Lartey, APN alumnus