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Toolkit for Forest Control and Supervision

Recent developments in trade policies of key timber consumer countries, such as the amended US Lacey Act, EU Timber Regulation, and the Australian Government’s Illegal Logging Prohibition Bill, as well as the ongoing implementation of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), have increased the need for producer countries to ensure verification of the legal origin of timber.

However, for the most part, tropical timber producer countries are not adequately prepared to meet such requirements. Compliance with responsible economic, social and environmental practices by forest operators is often limited to a few showcase areas. This is even more evident in indigenous community forestlands with high commercial value timber species, where loggers and traders often engage in unfair commercial practices, illegal logging, over-harvesting and timber theft with severe negative impact on the economy of indigenous and local community households.

Monitoring the origin and volumes of round wood and processed timber in forests, lumber yards, sawmills and timber warehouses is often limited. This is primarily due to weak institutions, poor governance and corruption in the forest sector. In many cases, poor implementation of policies is explained by “lack of capacity, limited operational budgets, high cost of needed technology” and “remoteness” of the forests./p>

PROFOR and the EU and DFID funded Forest Law Enforcement and Governance trust fund (FLEG-TF) have financed several innovative activities in Central American and Amazonian countries to improve forest governance and prevent forest crimes. In addition to facilitating policy dialogue, conflict resolution, capacity building and analytical work on governance, this technical assistance has also focused on designing low-cost tools for forest control and supervision.

These tools were primarily designed for government officers from forest control and supervision agencies in tropical countries seeking to implement timber legality verification systems. Bundling them into a single toolkit is likely to make their application easier, more efficient and more widespread throughout the timber supply chain and across a number of high-value timber species.

The Toolkit will include:

  • A field manual for the verification of the legal origin of timber based on timber volume yield tables;
  • Guidance for monitoring economic benefit sharing and environmental practices in logging contracts between forest industry and Indigenous Peoples communities;
  • A handbook for inspections of sawmills and other processing facilities.


This activity is ongoing. Inputs from forest technical staff and indigenous peoples' leaders from Central and Latin America were gathered during two workshops held at CATIE in Costa Rica in March 2013. Their suggestions and contributions are feeding into the design of the forthcoming Forest Control and Supervision Toolkit. Short video interviews with some of the workshop participants are available in this album and on this page.

Further findings will be shared on this page when they become available. Follow us on twitter or join our mailing list for regular updates.

For stories and updates on related activities, follow us on twitter and facebook, or to our mailing list for regular updates.

Last Updated : 02-24-2017


Related Links

FDA website

Reports of the Panel of Experts on Liberia, established by the UN

FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreement - Liberia

Jobs in the forestry sector in Liberia (Flickr)


governance, ICT


World Bank Africa Region, Liberia's Forestry Development Authority (FDA)

Supporting the Development of Liberia's Chain of Custody System

The objective of the national Chain of Custody (CoC) System is to capture the economic potential of the Liberia forest sector and its associated benefits for rural livelihoods and national growth through a comprehensive monitoring system ensuring that wood products and associated revenues are tracked down and accounted for. The CoC allows the tracking of logs harvested in the forestry concessions in Liberia, from the stump to the port. In addition to the tractability of commercial timber, the CoC controls the legality of log export and ensures that all taxes and fees related to the logging concessions are reported and collected.

The CoC is considered a crucial governance and transparency initiative, mandated by law in Liberia, and was a requirement for the lifting of the UN logging ban on Liberia. It provides a foundation for the Liberian Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (LEITI) and the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) that has been negotiated and signed with the European Union and is due to be ratified. 

Société Générale de Surveillance (SGS) was hired in October 2007 to build, implement and eventually transfer the CoC system known as LiberFor to the Forestry Development Authority (FDA).

SGS is responsible for the following services:

  • Control logs and wood products from stump to point of export or domestic market, and develop and maintain a computerized CoC information system;
  • Invoice and monitor all forest payments related to log, wood production and trade;
  • Issue timber export permits upon confirmation that the shipment originates from registered harvesting area and all relevant forest payments have been made to the Central Bank of Liberia;
  • Provide training to FDA counterpart staff and other relevant government staff in the Ministry of Finance, Central Banks and Ports Authority.

In addition to providing support for Liberfor in 2010-2011, PROFOR committed to sharing lessons from the development of this chain of custody system on its website.


  • Between 2009 and end of 2012, almost 370,000 m3 of timber were exported under the CoC system. In 2012, stumpage, export and other fees and taxes collected by the CoC system generated almost $9 million in revenue for the Government of Liberia. Over the 2008-2012 period, the system secured $27 million in net state revenue (gross revenue, minus the CoC management fee).
  • FDA personnel have been incorporated into SGS operational teams in field offices and at SGS headquarters.
  • The system has been developed to adapt to the requirements of field operations, from the trees’ felling to the export of logs.
  • Training of FDA staff and independent block verification and data processing is preparing the ground for a gradual transfer of responsibilities to FDA.

The viability of the CoC system was challenged initially by the slow roll out of concessions -- and resulting slow export of timber -- and insufficient numbers of officers, trainers, monitoring vehicles and offices in the field. A number of daunting forest governance and logitical issues, from controversy surrounding Private Use Permits to rehabilitation of roads and ports, remain ahead.

The system however has been continuously refined to tackle difficulties. For example, Standard Operating Procedures have been added to handle new challenges such as in-country change of ownership or cross border shipments. And the barcode has been reworked from 12-digits to 8-digits to reduce the number of barcodes errors.

Liberia is preparing to transition to a Legality Verification Department that includes LiberFor.

A field note summarizing lessons learned from the establishment of the chain of custody was published by PROFOR in February 2013.

For stories and updates on related activities, follow us on twitter and facebook, or to our mailing list for regular updates.

Author : World Bank Africa Region, Liberia's Forestry Development Authority (FDA)
Last Updated : 02-24-2017


Related Links

Field Notes: Out of the Woods

Supporting the Development of Liberia's Chain of Custody System

External Related Links

World Development Report 2011 on conflict, security and development


FRAGILE FOREST_Final_WebRes_0.pdf


Emily Harwell (lead consultant), with Arthur Blundell and Douglas Farah

Forests, Fragility and Conflict


An emerging body of analytic work has demonstrated the linkage between poverty, armed conflict, and weak state governance. States which exemplify this nexus of human vulnerability and state failure are often referred to as ‘fragile states’-- those failing, whether for lack of capacity or political will, to perform core functions of delivering basic services and protecting the security of its citizens.

There are strong correlations between state fragility, conflict, and the means by which natural resources such as forests are managed by the state. When resource rents and concession allocations are used for patronage it has the perverse effect of not only undermining the sustainable use of forest assets for development and access to forests for local livelihoods, but it also short-circuits state accountability to citizens and the development of sound governance institutions, laying the foundations for state fragility and conflict. 

The causal pathways between forests, weakened governance and violence are, however, poorly understood. For example, the dependence on forest income (as a proportion of GDP) has been demonstrated to be a poor predictor of violent conflict. Likewise, the proportion of national land area under forest cover is a poor predictor of state fragility. Indeed, there is no correlation between the likelihood of a country becoming a failed state and the extent of its forest area.  Having said this, nearly three quarters of the world’s forests are found in countries which have been assessed to be either failed states or are at moderate risk of becoming failed states.
PROFOR financed a paper on Forests, Fragility and Conflict to provide a critical review and synthesis of some of the key issues and post-conflict policies associated with forests, fragile states and conflict, and to develop guidance about how these issues might be addressed in future policy and development lending discussions. The synthesis was also designed to inform the World Bank's publication of the World Development Report 2011 on Conflict, Security and Development
The paper examined material from existing literature around three themes:
  • the impact of conflict and fragility on forests, with a special focus on cross-sectoral post-conflict issues associated with the management of forest resources,
  •  the mechanisms and channels of financial flows from forest extraction to state and non-state belligerents, which thereby facilitate or prolong conflict, and
  • the characteristics of fragile states that should be the focus of reform in post-conflict interventions in order to improve protection of forests and forest-based livelihoods and to mitigate further conflict.


The synthesis report informed some of the thinking that went into the World Development Report on Conflict, Security and Development, available here.

The synthesis and case studies, published as a collection in June 2011, are available on this page. 

The hope is that this publication will contribute to the articulation of a strategic approach to dealing with forest management in post-conflict operations.


For stories and updates on related activities, follow us on twitter and facebook, or to our mailing list for regular updates.

Author : Emily Harwell (lead consultant), with Arthur Blundell and Douglas Farah
Last Updated : 02-24-2017