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Africa Legality Programme

Many initiatives exist to eliminate deforestation and transition to sustainable commodity production in West Africa. Legal compliance can act as a vital first step to reducing forest loss and helping businesses to meet their own commitments, whilst providing a platform for greater collaboration to ease the journey to meeting commitments in full.

The Africa Legality Programme aims to promote legal compliance as a first step for businesses to demonstrate compliance with national and international responsible sourcing commitments, whilst promoting smallholder and gender inclusion. It works across three focal countries; Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Liberia, in a variety of commodities and sectors, with a primary focus on forestry, oil palm and cocoa.

What does the programme do?

The programme operates through a variety of approaches and activities, including: 

  • Benchmarking national legislation against voluntary certification schemes and other private sector-led tools, such as RSPO and FSC standards, and the High Conservation Value (HCV) and High Carbon Stock (HCS) approaches.
  • Developing an understanding of where legislation currently supports and aligns with voluntary tools and commitments, and where there are gaps between legislation and voluntary commitments.
  • Communicating findings to the private sector, government and CSOs, and raising awareness of different initiatives.
  • Developing tools and guidance – including the Field Audit App – to share the results of the legal reviews and support compliance with different requirements.
  • Promoting tools to help producer companies implement commitments and attain legal compliance.
  • Supporting multi-stakeholder dialogue and developing strategies to further align legal and voluntary mechanisms, with a focus on finding synergies with existing initiatives and platforms.

What has it achieved?

Key outputs of the Africa Legality Programme by 2018 include:

  • Publication of legality briefing guidance notes communicating the findings from benchmarking activities that have taken place across Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Liberia.
  • Awareness raising workshops and dialogues about implementation of ‘no deforestation’ commitments in West and Central Africa.
  • The delivery of an Africa Legality Workshop in Accra in partnership with BVRio Environmental Exchange in collaboration with the Government of Ghana in March 2017. This workshop gave participants an opportunity to discuss how legal compliance can support sustainable commodity markets.
  • Development of the Proforest Field Audit App which provides practitioners with a free, easy-to-use mobile application to collect audit findings in the field and consult supporting guidance.

Africa legality guidance notes

A series of guidance documents that explain how legislation in countries in West Africa can be used by producer companies to support compliance with specific sustainability standards and buyers’ sustainability commitments.

RSPO & RSPO Next in Ghana
HCV and HCS in Ghana
HCV and HCS in Côte d'Ivoire
HCV and HCS in Liberia

Proforest field audit app 

The Proforest field audit app provides a free, easy-to-use mobile platform through which to collect audit findings in the field, collaborate with their team on field projects and consult supporting guidance. 

Designed for use on tablet devices, it allows users to capture findings as text, images, videos, voice recordings and GPS coordinates, even when offline.

The app is available to download for Android tablets and Apple iPads

For any queries about the Proforest Field Audit app, please email 

Implementation and funding partners

The Programme is led by Proforest, working together with partners and relevant stakeholders in three countries in West Africa (Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Liberia). Major partners include the Taylor Crabbe Initiative, Heritage Partners and Associates and ClientEarth; Ghana Ministry of Food and Agriculture; forestry and oil palm producers in Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Liberia. There is also ongoing engagement with other government ministries and CSOs in all three countries. Funding is provided by the UK Department for International Development Forest Governance, Markets and Climate fund.