The Africa Practitioners Network was established with the aim of developing practical capacity in West and Central Africa. Now, within two years, the vision for developing a pool of local forestry and agriculture practitioners is being realised.
Rainforest Alliance has used five APN-trained auditors as consultant auditors, and now three other certification bodies, TUV Rheinland, Control Union and Scientific Certification Systems (SCS) – have requested similar services from APN’s growing pool of trained and experienced auditors.
To date, 44 trained practitioners have completed multiple on-the-job training events under the APN’s mentoring programme. Of these, six APN-trained and experienced practitioners have formed part of several FSC and RSPO audits and assessments in Ghana and Cameroon. Subsequently, TUV Rheinland and Control Union engaged the services of two APN alumni to assist with auditing and training respectively at sites in Ghana. There are further plans by TUV Rheinland and SCS to engage additional auditors in their upcoming work in Nigeria, and elsewhere in the region.
In addition to the work for the certification bodies, APN alumni have been involved in baseline assessments undertaken by Proforest, and have been engaged as HCV assessment peer reviewers, under the HCV Resource Network’s Assessor Licensing Scheme.
Feedback from certification bodies on the auditors’ performance has been positive. Sandra Razanamandranto, Africa Regional Manager of Rainforest Alliance noted that: “Developing national expertise is something crucial today if we want to undertake a comprehensive and accurate audit. Having trained national experts enables the audit team to better understand the applicability of criteria and indicators but also, considerably decreases the cost of certification services.
The Certification Division of Rainforest Alliance – RA Cert – has not only participated in capacity building of FSC Lead Auditors, in collaboration with the Africa Practitioners’ Network programme, but today, engages trained auditors on each of our audits. It is a successful system that we would like to encourage and continue.”