8 June 2006

Cameroon: Mayors Learn to Manage Forest Resources

Conference on Council forest management holds in Yaounde.

Mayors from Councils in the forest exploitation zone, administrative officials, donors and development partners are meeting in Yaounde to appreciate their responsibilities, and share knowledge on the judicial, financial and technical aspects of the management of forest resources by local councils. This is within the framework of the first conference on Council Forests organised under the theme, "the role of local Councils in the promotion of the responsible management of Cameroon's forests".

The conference comes ahead of the effective implementation decentralisation spelt out in the 22 July 2004 Law, to lay down the rules applicable to Councils. Within the framework of the law, powers shall be devolved upon councils, one of which relates to the environmental and natural resource management. Councils will therefore have the powers to undertake reforestation and creation of council forest as well as obtain parcels of the national forest to exploit for the welfare of the local population. It is with the desire to ensure that Councils proper manage the forest resources in conformity with the laws in force that the Association of Councils of the Forest zone of Cameroon organised the two-day conference that ends today in Yaoundé.

Officials of the Ministries of Territorial Administration and Decentralisation (MINATD) and Forestry and Wildlife co-chaired the opening ceremony of the conference yesterday. The Minister Delegate at MINATD, Emmanuel Edou while presiding the ceremony hailed the exemplary cooperation between the National Federation of Forest Councils of France (FNCOFOR) and Association of Councils and the United Towns of Cameroon. Besides the fact that seven mayors from Cameroon have already undertaken a working visit to France, a delegation from FNCOFOR is taking part in the Yaoundé conference.

Minister Edou called on the mayors and development partners to use the conference to redress the dysfunctions the different control missions from MINATD have noticed with regard to the management of annual forest royalties. He cited the at random distribution of the annual forest exploitation royalties, non payment of the 10 per cent of the royalties destined to the local population, high cost in the running of the Management Committee, lack of a management account of the 10 per cent destined to the local population, fake accountability by councils benefiting from forest royalties. The Minister insisted that the 10 per cent of the forest exploitation royalties must be used to provide potable water, electricity, road infrastructure health and school structures to the local population. The government, he said will reinforce control mechanisms to ensure the proper management of forest resources.

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