26 April 2005

Cameroon: Foresters Count Their Successes, Failures

Stakeholders begin assessing their performances in the sector for the past ten years.

One of the threats to the Cameroon forest and wildlife management system remains the non-mastery of the law and its inadequate application on the field. Ten years after the law on forestry and wildlife went into force, there is every evidence of haphazard implementation both on the part of the administration and actors on the field. This might not have come out clearly yesterday at the Yaounde Conference Centre where stakeholders in forestry and wildlife began meeting to assess their performances in the sector but the convening of the evaluation seminar itself indicates inadequacies.

Certainly, this is why we continue to talk of the persistent growth in the illegal exploitation of forestry resources, the weak participation of the local population in the management of the forest, including community forest that has been attributed to them for that purpose, weak level of local transformation, improprieties in the forestry profession characterised by poor results, sub-letting of exploitation licences and closure of certain exploitation units. All these lapses were enumerated by the Minister of Forestry and Wildlife, Ebge Achuo Hillman in his speech during the opening ceremony yesterday.

Without painting the whole sector completely black, he pointed out some of the achievements which from every indication today, outweigh the weaknesses. These include: the adoption of a forest exploitation system that is being carried out through management plans, amelioration of forest governance through the putting in place of a legislative framework to ensure the promotion of the private sector, transparency in the attribution of forest concessions, drawing up of a national forestry and wildlife control unit and regular follow up of litigations. For four days running, directors and sub-directors, provincial delegates, chiefs of services, chiefs of bureaus, research organisations, development partners and economic actors in the forestry and wildlife sector will make an assessment of the milestone covered and the level of implementing the law on forestry and wildlife between 1995 and 2005. They are expected to redefine what is left to be done to achieve positive results for the next ten years. To the director of Forest, Joseph Claude Abena, the fate of the forest in the next ten years will depend on a number of factors: inventory of exploitable forest and fixing of the level of tolerance, better management of community forests, putting in place of the new control strategy, application of management plan in all forest exploitation units and intensification of forest regeneration activities. But for all these to produce palpable results, a road map must be drawn up and followed strictly.

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