25 July 2012

Cameroon: Observers Recommend Tighter Controls on Forest Management

Photo: Greenpeace International
Logging devastation (file photo).

The fifth Steering Committee meeting of independent observers held in Yaounde Wednesday July 25.

Members of the Steering Committee of the Independent Observers for Forest Control and Follow up of Forestry Offences (infringements) in Cameroon; a government-European Union sponsored project, have recommended concerted efforts by all stakeholders in the forestry sector to curb growing illegality in the sector.

The fifth steering committee meeting of the observers held in Yaounde on Wednesday July 25. Besides examining the path covered in its information-sharing and capacity-building activities, committee members also examined the semester report (January -June 2012) as well as what could be done in the next six months. According to European Union's Carl Frosia of the Sectorial Programme for Environment and Rural Development, the country loses a lot in illegal logging and so there is need to tighten control by all stakeholders so as to nib new offences in the bud. Cameroon's signing of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (FLEGT) process wherein sustainable forest management is assured and wood legally exported, he said, is a good step in the right direction.

According to the first semester report, the observers undertook evaluation missions to forest regions in the country to see how the forest is being exploited, to denounce illegalities in the sector as well as lobby for best practices that ensure sustainable management for future generations. It also trained officials of the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife on the use of control gadgets as well as assisted in the drawing up of the list of offences in the forestry and wildlife sectors which was recently published by the ministry. The report states that as at June 30, 2012, FCFA 230 million had been collected as fines.

The report notes that although cases of illegality in forest management persist, they have however reduced compared to what existed in the yesteryears. A collaborative approach by all stakeholders, coupled with tighter controls, it recommends, could completely knock off or at least reduce the destruction to the barest minimum. The project collects and documents viable information on illegal forest exploitation in the country as well as analyses it for use by stakeholders for efficient governance in the forestry sector.

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