31 March 2005

Cameroon: Atlas to Ease Forest Management

The document was yesterday presented to the Minister of Forestry and Wildlife by the Global Forest Watch.

A new element, the most modern of all the tools used by government in controlling forest exploitation activities has been introduced in the whole gamut of forest management in Cameroon. The Interactive Atlas of Cameroon, presented to the Minister of Forestry and Wildlife, Egbe Achuo Hillman, yesterday, brings in a peculiar system of monitoring forest activities. That which can enable officials to sit in their offices and have a comprehensive view of the field.

Unlike a simple atlas generally known to be a collection of maps in a volume, the Interactive Atlas of Cameroon, encompasses a great deal of items necessary for the effective and sustainable management of the forest. It is a bound collection of maps accompanied by supplementary illustrations, facts and figures, dates, names of industries and actors on the field, places and graphic analysis.

Behind this initiative, described by the Minister of Forestry and Wildlife, as a pacesetter in the Central African sub-region, is the World Resources Institute's Global Forest Watch initiative. As explained by its coordinator, Benoît Merten, the atlas possesses facts and information on forestry, presents them in a visual manner and puts together facts and information that were hitherto neither linked nor easily accessible. By doing this, Global Forest Watch intends to contribute in a significant manner to the amelioration of forest management and rational, sustainable and responsible use of natural resources.

But what difference does the new instrument make of existing ones? It is a modern device which involves the use of information gathered through satellite periodic detection. It enables the administration to work almost on the spot to determine what is happening on the field.

Although the Interactive Atlas of Cameroon provides information nationwide on forestry activities, it focuses more on the southern forested region of the country. The atlas is a veritable tool that can be used to determine whether forest Management Units are being exploited in accordance with the law or not. The atlas traces, at each given period, road networks used by forest exploiters and on the basis of this, makes it possible for the administration to know whether Forest Management Unit licences were issued to exploiters in the zone or not. The atlas is produced within the framework of the 2002 collaboration agreement signed between Global Forest Watch and the then Ministry of the Environment and Forestry. It covers activities from 1999 to 2003.

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