Supporting legal compliance with the Proforest Field App
Commodity agriculture and forestry are major economic drivers in West Africa, but there is concern about their potential negative social and environmental impacts. Efforts to mitigate these impacts has led to both the institution of legal regimes to safeguard the environment and society on a national and international level, as well as private sector commitments to responsible sourcing.
Proforest’s Africa Legality Programme seeks to encourage synergies between these two efforts, by recognising the important role of legality as a part of the toolkit to support responsible production. The new Africa Legality guidance briefing series is the latest output of this programme, and investigates the extent to which legal compliance as a tool already delivers on the various sustainability commitments of private sector companies or can act as a stepping stone to meeting commitments. The guidance communicates findings from benchmarking activities that took place across the three focal countries; Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Liberia.
Focusing on specific sustainability standards and commitments which frequently feature in companies’ sustainability commitments: such as the High Conservation Value (HCV) and High Carbon Stock (HCS) approaches, RSPO and RSPO Next and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), the series assesses them against national legislative frameworks in order to measure the extent to which national legislation already safeguards natural ecosystems, biodiversity and community rights. The briefings also give examples of several commitments made by governments to reduce deforestation in supply chains, such as the Tropical Forest Alliance 2020 (TFA 2020) Africa Palm Oil Initiative, which works with national governments, private sector and local stakeholder platforms to create national and regional principles to define sustainable oil palm production for the region.
The publication of the Africa Legality briefing series coincides with the official launch of the Proforest Field Audit App, a new resource, developed to support the implementation of sustainability commitments and to help producer companies attain legal compliance. The app provides practitioners with 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. It allows users to capture findings as text, images, videos, voice recordings and GPS coordinates, even when offline. The app contains a wide range of features, including a module for project management which allows users to create and modify project information and assign checklist and commodities to a project. Checklists for RSPO are already available, as well as the country-specific legality guidance developed by Proforest. Once the field data has been collected users can then logon to the web dashboard to review and finalise findings before simply exporting text findings into one spreadsheet ready to be included in a report.
By streamlining data collection and reducing the time needed for auditing and reporting, the Proforest Field App will make field audits and baseline assessments much easier.
The clear, intuitive layout of the app makes learning to use the application easy, and it comes with a user manual. It is suitable for both Android and Apple tablets and is currently available in French and English.