14 July 2006

Cameroon: Multi-Stakeholders Indict Gov't for Unsustainable Forest Management

The unsustainable mass exploitation of forests and environmental resources by some individuals and the Cameroon government has irked multi-stakeholders, who have prescribed that for every tree cut, two or more must be planted.

These were concerns expressed by multi-stakeholders who attended a recent three-day workshop seminar organised by Forest Governance Facility, FGF, at the Presbyterian Church Centre, Bamenda.

The stakeholders blamed government for unsustainable management of forest resources.

Drawn from Northwest, Southwest and West Provinces, participants were told that the workshop organisers had to take a multi-stakeholder approach, because the government of Cameroon adopted the Cameroon Forest and Environment Sectoral Programme, FESP, in 2004 to check wanton exploitation of forests.

Participants who spoke to The Post after the seminar regretted that despite efforts by NGOs to sensitise and educate the population to sustainably manage their forests, government, on its part, has been carrying out wanton exploitation of timber for exportation without replacement.

FGF has earmarked a series of workshops across Cameroon from June - September on "hot issues" that will help establish what are the main concerns and "hot issues" in the environment and forest sector in Cameroon, as perceived by stakeholders.

Speaking during the occasion, Mrs. Verina Ingram, the Interim Manager of FGF, said the workshop on "hot issues" would determine how the "arena" will work, which group of stakeholders have common issues of concern and how the FGF can facilitate them.

It will determine priorities for small grants as well as assist in information provision for stakeholders on subjects identified as priorities.

"The goal is to enhance environment for good governance and equitable, sustainable management practices in the Cameroon forest and environment sector with a specific objective to develop an autonomous and neutral facility that will serve as a mechanism to build up and serve the FESP public domain."

According to Ingram, administrative authorities are unable to work with civil society organisations because they do not know who they are and what they are doing. Also, the civil society finds access to government a big task, for them to know government's programme.

She said FGF has resolved that they will make use of the media to educate and sensitise the population by "making information available in the way that it can be understood by the man in the street."We will give the people more information so that they work together, information that will empower them," said Ingram.

She said stakeholders would get small grants up to September this year. Apart from helping the population to improve on their livelihood, FGF will build capacities of the stakeholders.The Regional Manager of SNV, Northwest and Southwest Provinces, Bakia Besong, as a facilitator, said SNV is a co-partner in the FGF project.

Besong said the main issue raised during the workshop also relates to the issues that are in the forestry law and forest sectoral programme as well as gender issues. "At this stage, we are only creating awareness and from here, we are going to facilitate and help stakeholders play the role of advocacy and lobbying, which key stakeholders can use to create an impact on policy," Bakia noted.

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