20 April 2006

Cameroon: Director Bemoans Depletion of Local Forests

"Cameroon's forest cover is diminishing, trees are being felled and little or nothing is done to make sure that new ones are plantedâ-oe for unexplained reasons little importance about our forestry products is made known to the rural population, thereby decreasing the chances of future generations to see and utilise these forestry products in a sustainable manner."

Deputy Director in the Ministry of Environment and Nature Protection Dr. Gabriel Tchatat expressed these worries during a weeklong workshop that held at the Bamenda Pastoral Centre, Monday April 10 - 15.

The theme of the workshop was, "Leadership and collaborative Management of Forest Environment in Cameroon."The Deputy Director said though 18 percent of the world's forest is on the African continent, "no corresponding African voice is ever heard or listened to in the global forest dialogue."

Considering that forestry is one of Cameroon's life wires, Tchatat said everything humanly possible must be done to stem the irrational exploitation of the nation's forests.

According to experts, if the rate at which the regime in place is "exploiting" the forests is not checked, in no distant future, life will be unbearable to Cameroonians especially communities that depend solely on forest products.

Consequently, the potential for economic growth and poverty alleviation would be greatly retarded.Paying tribute to the organisers of the workshop a Bamenda-based NGO, Promoters of Environmental Management in Sustainable Agriculture in Highland Regions PEMSAHR, and SIEMENPUU Foundation Finland for sponsoring the workshop, Tchatat assured them of government support.

He proposed a kind of "management contract" between the representatives of forest communities and the state for sustainable management of community forests.

For his part, the Coordinator of PEMSAHR, Sylvester Kum, said the workshop aimed at equipping staff of organisations involved in collaborative management of forest environment with adequate insights, instruments, skills and motivation to do their jobs diligently.

This would enable them achieve effective collaboration in planning and decision-making; develop adaptive forest management plans and more.While thanking SIEMENPUU Foundation, Kum said too often, seminars in Cameroon produce brilliant resolutions and recommendations, which are never implemented.

"In our case, it will be different because PEMSAHR will ensure that the recommendations are put into practice immediately after the workshop."

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