13 June 2006

Cameroon: Forestry : New Participatory Programme Launched

The Forest Governance Facility was officially launched in Yaounde yesterday.

A new programme aimed at fully integrating the civil society in forestry management has gone operational. The Forest Governance Facility programme was launched in Yaounde yesterday by the British High Commissioner to Cameroon, David Sydney Maddicott during a ceremony which saw the participation of representatives of civil society groups, the private sector, researchers, mayors, parliamentarians and other members of the administration.

The new programme sets out to support and complement government's Forest and Environment Sector Programme by providing support to civil society, the private sector and elected administration in order to fully get them work together to enhance forest governance process in Cameroon. The programme, in effect, does not question the raison d'être of government's Forest Environment Sector Programme, but brings in an important component; that of empowering the population to determine their own priorities and decide on what programme of action to take. The Forest Governance Facility wants a lateral rather than vertical approach to solving problems related to forest management. It is by doing this that the programme will help improve governance and promote equity in forest management practice as well as build a strong and independent society. This will be done by establishing a neutral and independent facility that will build up and serve the public domain of the forest reform program me on a national level.

As stated by the British High Commissioner in his speech yesterday, over the next four years, the Department for International Development will contribute CFA 11 Billion to Cameroon's forest sector reforms. The United Kingdom government has already committed CFA 8 Billion to the Forest Environment Sector Programme through targeted sector budget support and a capacity building basket fund.

Ahead of the effective implementation of the programme which will begin with field meetings with the local populations, identification of priorities and capacity building on forest management, the National Coordinator, Verina Engram, has been expressing her wish that the programme should contribute significantly to enhance forest governance. This, she told Cameroon Tribune, will depend greatly on the anxiety of the actors and their ability to state clearly what they want. As far as the programme is concerned, the Coordinator said they want less poverty in Cameroon and improved governance. "How this would be possible depends on what the different stakeholders say is most important", she said.

Forest Governance Facility programme covers the national territory in all its forest diversity, dense tropical forest, Savanna and montane forest. The major activities will include creation of a public arena for actors, promoting research, publishing information for partners, and providing support to small groups. The programme is being implemented by the SNV, the Netherlands Development Organisation.

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