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Lokoundjé-Nyong forest, Cameroon

Based on the work of Germain Yéné Yéné
Development Consultant, Mba Mba Georges, Cameroon

The experience gained in the process of developing a management plan for this concession, the first of such a size (125 568 ha), has enabled Cameroon to refine a range of tools to achieve sustainable management of forest resources.


The Lokoundjé-Nyong forest is an area of 125 568 ha, stretching over Cameroon’s Sud, Littoral and Centre Provinces. This reserved forest is registered as a forest concession. It is a closed moist forest lying mainly in the Biafran Atlantic zone, with a small part in the coastal Atlantic zone. It suffers severe disruption because of a large human presence. Moving from the interior towards the coast, the following succession of vegetation types is found: typical Biafran Cesalpiniaceae forest, forest in which Cesalpiniaceae are still abundant, forest in which Cesalpiniaceae are relatively rare, and lastly typical Lophira alata and Sacoglottis gabonensis coastal forest. The Bovidae, Cercopithecinae and Viverridae families predominate among the most common wildlife species.


With a view to creating a political and institutional framework favourable to sustainable management of forest resources, Cameroon has carried out important reforms in the forest sector since the early 1990s, with the establishment of a Ministry of the Environment and Forests in 1992, the publication of a forest policy document in 1993 (revised in 1995) and the promulgation of forest legislation in January 1994 (Law 94/01) providing regulations for forests, wildlife and fishing, while Decree 95/531/PM of 20 August 1995 lays down how forest regulations are to be applied.

The 1994 law advocates the maintenance of permanent forest on 30 percent of the country’s area, subdivided into community forests and State-owned forests and including protected areas and logging concessions. The various zones are definitively earmarked for resource conservation or sustainable timber production. This concern led to the development of a zoning plan for southern Cameroon, which has been in place since 1997. Harvesting of the resources of the permanent forest is to be carried out on the basis of a management plan drawn up according to guidelines provided by the Ministry of the Environment and Forests, and the management plan is to be approved by the government authorities in charge of forests.

The Ministry of the Environment and Forests is responsible for drawing up and implementing the State’s forest policy, while the National Office for Forest Development, which falls under the ministry, is responsible for technical operations. For several years, private structures have been set up to carry out management work financed by concession-holders or other private forest-sector commercial companies.

The Lokoundjé-Nyong stand is under the charge of a technical operational unit (TOU) created in 1999, which is a decentralized technical structure of the ministry. Although it may stretch across several administrative units, it is headed by a single warden. The Lokoundjé-Nyong forest TOU falls administratively under the Sud provincial delegation and technically under the Forest Directorate, and the warden receives field-level support from the heads of forest stations. The concession-holder is responsible for implementing management measures and also participates in socially oriented work by paying an annual forest fee and carrying out activities agreed with the local population.

The inhabitants of the 31 villages bordering on the forest apply management measures in the buffer zone. Partnership with the local population is established through rural forestry committees, which were set up in all the villages in the TOU zone when the management plan was being prepared in order to establish a TOU/population/concession-holder/other partners interface.

There is at present no operational partnership within the framework of the Lokoundjé-Nyong forest management plan. However, some management measures in the buffer zone are supported by funding from the Canadian International Development Agency through the Sustainable Development of Cameroonian Forests and the Support for the Protection of Cameroon’s Environment Projects, with the technical participation of the TOU. From time to time NGOs such as WWF visit the forest.


In 1992, towards the end of Phase 2 of the Canadian-Cameroonian Institutional Support to the Forest Sector Project, the Canadian and Cameroonian parties carried out a study to identify a forest that could be the subject of a pilot forest management project. They chose the Edéa forest, later known as the Lokoundjé-Nyong forest. With technical and financial support from Canada, the Lokoundjé-Nyong Project was set up and then replaced in 1999 by the Lokoundjé-Nyong TOU. After a major information and awareness campaign in all the villages of the zone, the Lokoundjé-Nyong forest was closed off and declared a timber production forest in 1997, with the management plan being finalized in 1998. The plan was prepared mainly following the biophysical management inventory guidelines developed for the Lokoundjé-Nyong forest pilot management project on the basis of the guidelines of the National Office for Forest Development, which recommend dividing the forest into blocks of 25 000 to 50 000 ha depending on the total area of the forest, with each unit being considered individually in terms of the sampling plan and inventory results.

The Lokoundjé-Nyong forest concession was allocated to the Mba Mba Georges Sarl company following a call for tenders in 2000. A provisional three-year logging agreement was drawn up, accompanied by terms and conditions. Mba Mba Georges Sarl has its headquarters in Kribi, where it also owns a processing plant. It is a fully Cameroonian-owned company, employing more than 250 people.

A biophysical management inventory was made, including an inventory of timber resources with a sampling rate of 0.5 percent, as well as soil research and a census of wildlife species. Data were processed by compilation unit and stratum, thus giving a density table and an overall stocking table showing volumes per species and per diameter category.

Classification was carried out in terms of vegetation, morphopedology and density, and four main types of land use were defined for the concession: primary forest, secondary forest, forest on hydromorphic soils, and crop and fallow land. Sectors not suitable for production were identified on the basis of ecological and cartographic criteria, field observations, and the results of studies and/or information provided by the local population. These sectors (or “allocations”) were then mapped on a 1:50 000 scale.

Management of wood products in the Lokoundjé-Nyong forest follows a combination of volume- and capacity-based principles. The forest was divided into eight five-year management blocks and 40 felling coupes on the basis of the volume to be extracted per period, with the potential level of extraction and growth being estimated for each species and with a 40-year rotation period. Silvicultural interventions are proposed in the management plan (clearing around future stems, liberation cutting, enrichment, etc.). To get a better idea of forest dynamics or the stand’s reactions to different interventions, the management plan recommends setting up permanent monitoring plots for each type of intervention being used. However, logging activities are still being carried out under the provisional logging agreement, and silvicultural interventions and permanent monitoring plots have not yet been set up. Reduced-impact logging is achieved by following forest intervention guidelines developed with Canadian development aid in order to improve forest management practices in Cameroon: directional felling, creeper removal, the planning of road networks, skid trails and stockyards, etc.

A socio-economic study was also carried out to discover how space and resources are used. The local people are closely associated with the preparation and implementation of the management plan through rural forestry committees set up in each village, which act as intermediaries between the forest administration, the concession-holder and the villagers. These committees are composed of eight members elected by the village and are concerned mainly with information, animation, training and participation of the village in management. However, since the end of the project – and hence of material and financial support – the rural forestry committees have ceased to be operational.

Conservation and protection measures focus on sensitive zones or those at risk of soil degradation. Fishing and hunting are permitted in these zones, while collecting is restricted to fruit. Logging, the gathering of poles and agriculture are banned. There are also forest intervention rules (a ban on handling motor fuel and oil or establishing a stockyard within 60 m of a watercourse, etc.).

Wildlife will be taken into account in management by establishing a wildlife protection allocation (4.6 percent of the area of the concession) where wildlife habitats will be developed. Measures will be taken regarding hunting. However, there are as yet no guidelines or rules for an inventory or the management of wildlife in a timber production forest.

Rights of use or customary rights are recognized for local inhabitants for household use. It should be noted that illegal logging on the concession has practically ceased. Management and/or silvicultural measures to be established for non-wood forest products (NWFPs) will be examined in greater depth when preparing the five-year and annual plans, identifying their extraction areas and making an inventory of them. In addition, management measures for the buffer zone must harmonize the local people’s uses with production systems that foster maintenance of forest vegetation. A land use plan must thus be developed for each village.


With an adequate legal and institutional framework, management of the Lokoundjé-Nyong forest offers good chances of success. Some of the logging practices observed on this forest concession should be encouraged and promoted, such as the demarcation of annual felling coupes, respect for minimum harvest diameters, respect for seed-trees so as to conserve the biodiversity and economic value of the forest, certain reduced-impact logging techniques and certain environmental protection measures during logging activities. Other practices to be encouraged are minimization of the amount of wood abandoned in stockyards or the forest by adopting efficient sawing techniques, tagging of stumps and logs, minimum clearing when making roads and tracks through the forest, and an official ban on company workers’ possession or transportation of game.

Implementation of the Lokoundjé-Nyong forest management scheme is too recent (two years) for any lessons to be drawn, especially as the silvicultural measures have not yet been implemented. Difficulties experienced by the TOU have prevented adequate monitoring of the management practices so far adopted – indeed, full implementation and adequate supervision and monitoring of a management scheme of this breadth require appropriate levels of human, material and financial resources. The respective obligations (especially financial and technical) of the concession-holder and the TOU also require clarification, for the concession-holder cannot shoulder all the costs involved in adequate implementation of such a scheme. It is also important that the local population be supported in its management of the buffer zone. And it is vital that partnerships between NGOs, the TOU, the local people and the concession-holder be established, if implementation of management measures is to be successful.

Management of the Lokoundjé-Nyong forest has created many expectations among the local population, and these need to be fulfilled. It has also inspired and fostered an enthusiasm for community forest projects in the forest concession buffer zone. At present, local economic fall-out from such harvesting is confined to the 10 percent of the annual forest fees that is paid back to the villagers via the communes, improved access to the villages, and the modest wages received. When the definitive agreement is signed, other social schemes will be added to the terms and conditions.


Eba’atyi R. & Essiane M.E. 1998. Les efforts du Cameroun en vue de la gestion des forêts de production: progrès et lacunes. Tropenbos, Cameroon.

Government of Cameroon. 1994. Loi n°94/01 du 20 janvier1994 portant régime des forêts, de la faune et de la pêche. Yaounde, Cameroon.

Government of Cameroon. 1995a. Décret n°95/ 531/PM du 23 août 1995 fixant les modalités d’application du régime des forêts. Yaounde, Cameroon.

Government of Cameroon. 1995b. Décret n°95/531/PM du 23 août 1995 fixant les modalités d’application du régime des forêts. Yaounde, Cameroon.

Government of Cameroon. 1997. Décret n°97/073/PM/ du 5 février 1997 portant incorporation au domaine privé de l’Etat d’une portion de forêt de 125 568 ha dénommée «forêt pilote Lokoundjé-Nyong». Yaounde, Cameroon.

Government of Cameroon. 1999. Arrêté n°077/CAB/PM du 6 octobre 1999 portant création d’une unité technique opérationnelle de première catégorie dénommé «Lokoundjé-Nyong». Yaounde, Cameroon.

MINEF. 1995. La politique forestière du Cameroun. Document de politique générale. MINEF, Direction des forêts, Yaounde, Cameroon.

MINEF. 1998. Normes d’intervention en milieu forestier. Republic of Cameroon.

MINEF. 2001. Arrêté n°0222/A/MINEF/du 25 mai 2001 fixant les procédures d’élaboration, d’approbation, de suivi et contrôle de la mise en œuvre des plans d’aménagement des forêts de production du domaine forestier permanent. Yaounde, Cameroon.

MINEF/PTI. 1994. Normes provisoires. Aménagement polyvalent de la forêt pilote du Lokoundjé-Nyong. Normes d’inventaire biophysique d’aménagement. Republic of Cameroon.

MINEF/ONADEF. 1995. Schéma directeur d’aménagement polyvalent du massif forestier du Lokoundjé-Nyong. Projet Appui Institutionnel Forestier Phase transitoire. Republic of Cameroon.

MINEF/PTI/PGDFC. 1997. Procédures annuelles pour l’exploitation forestière.

MINEF/DF. 1997. Guide d’élaboration des plans d’aménagement des forêts de production du domaine forestier permanent de la République du Cameroun. Republic of Cameroon (preliminary version).

MINEF/ITTO/ONADEF. 1998. Directives nationales pour l’aménagement durable des forêts naturelles du Cameroun.

Ngomas P. & Giasson, M. 1994. Les populations du massif forestier du Lokoundjé-Nyong. Etude socio-économique préalable à la mise en place d’un plan d’aménagement forestier. IPD-PTI-ACDI. Republic of Cameroon.

ONADEF. 1991. Canevas de plan d’aménagement forestier. Republic of Cameroon.

POULIN THERIAULT Inc/PGDFC,1996. Plan de gestion quinquennal du massif forestier du Lokoundjé-Nyong. ACDI-MINEF. Republic of Cameroon.

POULIN THERIAULT Inc/PGDFC. 1998. Plan d’aménagement du massif forestier du Lokoundjé-Nyong. ACDI-MINEF. Republic of Cameroon.

Haut-Abanga forest concession, Gabon

Based on the work of Nicholas Bayol
Forêt Ressources Management/Rougier, Gabon

This example describes a large concession on which management, based on a detailed knowledge of the resource, is integrated into the company (with a management unit). A set of forest management and harvesting rules was drawn up and implemented, while logging operations are closely monitored on the basis of these rules. Reduced environmental impact logging techniques have been developed, and the results of studies and research applied. Considerable efforts have been devoted to conservation, with 5 percent of the concession being placed under comprehensive protection of exceptional ecosystems. Wildlife has also been taken into account in a working plan put into operation in 2002. The overall management plan was developed through collaboration between the concession-holder, local and international NGOs and the government directorate in charge of forests.


The Haut-Abanga forest concession under sustainable management (FCSM), awarded to the Rougier Gabon company, is a State-owned natural closed moist forest with an area of 288 626 ha located in the north of Gabon (in Woleu Ntem and Estuaire Provinces). The stand is part of the regional centre of Guineo-Congolian endemism and has an exceptionally high degree of specific diversity. Over 99 percent of the Haut-Abanga FCSM is at present covered by forest and the main formations are secondary closed moist forests of various ages, usually the result of agricultural clearing. Other plant formations have been identified on the concession, such as those on mountains and steep slopes. The higher-altitude forests have an abundance of creepers, mosses and lichens, a whole range of begonias and a greater abundance of species typical of primary forests. The Haut-Abanga forest can be described as a forest of Burseraceae (18 percent of the land area), Myristicaeae (15 percent), Cesalpiniaceae (15 percent) and Euphorbiaceae (9 percent).

The concession appears to be relatively rich in wildlife in terms of both diversity and quantity. In particular, elephants, panthers, duikers and mandrills are frequently seen, while gorillas, chimpanzees, various small primates and buffalo are also found.


Gabon’s new Forest Code was promulgated on 31 December 2001, establishing a regulatory framework oriented very clearly towards sustainable management of the forest heritage by placing forest concessions under management. Application decrees are still to be drafted in order to allow full application of the code. The country’s forests are divided into permanent State-owned forests and rural forests whose use is reserved to village communities. The rural forest system has not yet been formally established and regulations governing management procedures still have to be drawn up. Gabon also intends the new Forest Code to promote development of a timber processing industry. Each management plan must be accompanied by an industrialization plan encompassing the establishment of new industries that can make use of the available resource. The Forest Code defines several types of permit: FCSMs, covering an area of 50 000 to 200 000 ha; associated forest permits, covering areas of less than 50 000 ha; and mutual agreement permits, covering 50 trees. With regard to the social dimension, the law stipulates that any FCSM management plan must take into consideration the people living in the area affected by the FCSM. Further, FCSM permit-holders must make a financial contribution to support collective-interest development activities initiated by the village communities. This new Forest Code thus sets logging companies at the heart of forest management of their concessions. Logging companies normally receive technical support from consulting firms specializing in forest management, and financial support in the form of loans from the French Agency for Development (AFD), to help them to prepare their management plans and acquire the skills needed for execution of their new tasks.

The forest administration is responsible for ratifying all development and management documents and then monitoring their proper implementation. The offices of the Ministry of Forest Economy most directly involved are the Directorate of Forest Inventory, Management and Regeneration and the Directorate of Wildlife and Hunting, the latter being responsible for managing wildlife and protected areas.

Management of the Haut-Abanga FCSM has been entrusted to a private company, Rougier Gabon, for timber production, biodiversity conservation, wildlife management and fragile ecosystem protection. The French consulting firm Forêt Ressources Management provides on-going technical support. In addition to the forest administration, there is close collaboration among Rougier Gabon, the Directorate of Forests and NGOs involved in conservation (WWF and the Wildlife Conservation Society [WCS]).

The FCSM is relatively inaccessible. Moreover, it has contained no indigenous inhabitants since the 1950s, while the closest villages today are located nearly 5 km from its boundary and have no direct access to it. Sociologists who have conducted research in all these villages have recorded no claims to customary rights inside the concession area. Human pressure on the forest ecosystems therefore tends to be very low.

Full integration of forest management activities into the company is vital if the measures advocated in the management plan are to be effectively implemented. With this in view, the company’s internal organization was overhauled and a central management unit, set up in Libreville in 1999, was placed in charge of coordinating and supervising all forest development and management activities. At field level, a Gabonese forestry specialist supervises implementation of management and working documents on each FCSM, working within a local management branch that falls under the logging supervisor.


Ninety percent of the Haut-Abanga FCSM has already been harvested by various logging companies between the 1960s and now. The management process began with a feasibility study of the FCSM management project in 1996, and this led to the signing of a provisional management/logging/processing agreement. The project was launched in 1998 and 1999, with the development of technical norms through on-site pilot activities and the establishment of a management unit within the company. A reflection on the FCSM management approach was carried out at the end of 2000 on the basis of this analytical work, leading to the preparation of a management plan then approved in January 2002. There were consultations with WWF and WCS throughout the process of preparing the management plan.

Rougier Gabon’s commitment to the management process on its concessions arises from various motives: conformity with national legislation, stable integration into the local and national economy, conservation of the forest heritage, rationalization of logging activities and increased productivity. There is also the possibility of industrial funding conditional on its commitment to sustainable management and possible certification – and a certification audit was in fact carried out in 2002.

Management is based on a detailed knowledge of forest resources (exhaustive management and harvest inventories) and on such management’s being integrated into the company through a central management unit and a local branch. A body of forest management and harvesting rules has been drawn up and put into practice, and harvesting operations are closely monitored on the basis of these rules.

The management inventory covering the whole FCSM was intended to give precise information on current and future resources, counting all species (300) and all future stems with a diameter of 10 cm or more. Forest sample plots were also installed for post-harvest monitoring, while okoumé regeneration trials were launched to obtain a better understanding of ecosystem dynamics. These studies were carried out internally with Forêt Ressources Management support and in close collaboration with local and international research bodies. Wildlife was also taken into account in surveys. Thanks to forest mapping, inventory data could then be processed in stratified terms and each plant formation identified. Thanks to the geographical information system, the distribution of the various elements recorded could then be studied. Maps were thus drawn up of timber potential, and also of plant diversity, the abundance of the various animal and plant species, and pressure on wildlife. The amount of available timber is now very precisely known and simulations of stand development can be made, so that a real reflection on harvesting and processing activities is possible. The management document thus plans activities on the FCSM for the next 25 years.

Each management block has a corresponding objective: a timber production block, a biodiversity conservation block and two protection blocks. The decision to set up the conservation series was made when a hitherto untouched zone with a very wide range of timber species was discovered. One protection block focuses on the peaks, ridges and high slopes of the main mountain massifs and fragile environments, and the other on the banks of the Abanga, which are particularly rich in large wildlife. All extraction and the introduction of machinery are banned on the conservation and protection block (about 10 000 ha). Supplementary studies could be carried out on these blocks in collaboration with NGOs or research scientists. Two subunits have been created within the production block to take into account the forest activities of those living in camps: the agroforestry group, where agricultural clearing and hunting will be authorized under certain conditions. These two subunits will have their own management documents.

With a view to management of the production block, future changes in the present forests were modeled on the basis of inventory and forest dynamics data. Management parameters, rotation length, minimum harvest diameters and a list of target species were defined in order to ensure a satisfactory regeneration of forest stands.

The key step in implementation of the management plan is the harvest inventory, which allows a short-term harvest plan to be drawn up and harvest operations to be rationalized. It is a full-scale inventory of forest stands in the zones to be harvested. It is carried out one year prior to harvesting and is accompanied by a very detailed mapping of inventoried trees,

topographical features and constraints on harvesting. A study conducted in 2000 showed the major advantages of careful planning of tracks in order to minimize damage and also laid down rules to ensure the most efficient use of networks.

After the harvest inventory, summaries of resources potentially available for annual allowable cuts (AACs) are drawn up, together with logging maps. Logging can then be organized and monitored on a daily basis. Cutting is planned on two forest management units (FMUs), which are in turn divided into forest harvesting units (FHUs) so that an equal volume can be produced annually. Logging is planned on three levels, as the following table shows:




Management plan

Length of rotation (25 years)


Working plan

4–7 years


Annual harvesting plan

1 year (possible extension to 3 years)


The management plan lays down logging rules covering felling, hauling and skidding, limitation of timber loss, limitation of chemical pollution (recovery of sump oil) and optimization of the secondary road network. The silvicultural approach adopted is that of irregular coppicing with a 25-year rotation to allow adequate regeneration of the forest.

Logging is supervised and monitored both internally and externally. A comprehensive system has been set up to monitor harvested products from the log in the forest through to its processing and/or marketing. Rougier Gabon has a veneering and plywood plant, supplies to which will be diversified so as to make the best use of the available resource. In coming years, industrial capacity will be expanded with the installation of a sawmill on the Haut-Abanga site. Analysis of available resources has been carried out, focusing on the technological features of each species, in order to provide guidance for choices with regard to industry.

Wildlife has also been taken into account with a working plan put into operation in 2002. Financial support has been requested from the French World Environmental Fund, with Rougier Gabon being ready to finance half the programme, which has three components: rational wildlife management, prevention of poaching, and monitoring and evaluation of the wildlife management/conservation component of the overall management plan. Commercial hunting is banned, as is access to tracks by anyone outside the company. A team of ecorangers will be formed. The activities of the Rougier management unit will include implementation of this programme. A wildlife management committee is planned, which will supervise and provide guidance for wildlife management and conservation on the FCSM. A system will be set up to provide biological and socio-economic monitoring and evaluation of wildlife conservation.

In socio-economic terms, management should bring about improved living conditions in the forest camps. A major effort had to be devoted to training staff. The FCSM also helps to maintain jobs and the economic fabric of the countryside. Rougier Gabon will be involved in local development by financial contributions to local-level projects.


It is important to stress the revolution that sustainable management brings about within the company: new know-how, new working methods, new relationships both within the company and with outside partners, etc. Management of Central African forest concessions cannot be pursued outside the company and still less in opposition to the company, for even if the forest belongs to the State, the logging company is present in the field on a daily basis and it is logical for it to act as forest manager. It is the only one capable of guiding management choices that are closely linked to production choices. If a management project for a production forest is not congruent with the business culture of the logging company, it is unlikely to be successful.

The second lesson lies in the remarkable progress of dialogue among the partners in sustainable management in Gabon in recent years. NGOs, people’s representatives, government agents, logging companies and researchers are meeting together, exchanging ideas and moving forward in concert in the interests of all.

The technical approach adopted in preparing the Haut-Abanga FCSM management plan can be reproduced on all large concessions (those of more than 100 000 ha) allocated to companies with corresponding production tools, with the adjustments inevitably needed for different situations. In Gabon, as in the Congo, large concession-holders are already extensively involved in sustainable management of their concessions, and in a few years’ time 5 to 7 million ha of production forest in Gabon should be under management. However, the individuals or small or medium-sized companies granted “small” permits have only light structures and will be unable to meet the same management standards. Technical solutions to group permits together, simplify management procedures or adapt regulations have yet to be found, and funding systems have to be sought. These small concession-holders often operate informally and only barely within the law. Furthermore, they are not subject to the same pressure as large, internationally known companies. New penalties and incentives must therefore be established. A certificate of good management would be a bonus for good pupils, although it would not be of use today outside a limited market in Europe. National and international incentives could also eliminate some barriers.

Although the international timber market is hard to control, it is an essential element for the success of management projects. A company must first of all ensure its own economic survival if it is to manage its forest sustainably. Through industrialization, it can increase locally added value, diversify production and reduce risks. In the end, industrialization and management can be seen as two complementary tools serving the same goal.

Considerable progress has been achieved in knowledge of ecosystems and natural resources. A forest management inventory is the key element in long-term planning of activities on a forest concession. The available timber resources and the future potential are now known for the whole FCSM, and its overall dynamics will become known in a few years through the permanent monitoring plots set up. Collaboration with research institutes and other management specialists is vital here. Research leading to a better knowledge of the overall working of ecosystems and the complex interactions of their various components must be promoted at both national and international levels. Optimization of NWFPs is another interesting research subject. Although these products were taken into account in preparatory studies for the management plan, it should be pointed out that they are very much undervalued at present and that traditional knowledge about them is being lost.


Cassagne, B. & Bayol, N. 2000. Préparation d'un plan d'aménagement forestier. Contribution from Rougier Gabon for the seminar “Quel avenir pour le secteur forêt et environnement au Gabon” organised by “Association France” Gabon.

FRM. 1996. Etude préparatoire du projet d'aménagement de la concession forestière du Haut-Abanga. Report, Forest resource management.

IPC-GROENE RUINUTE. nd. La tronçonneuse dans les régions tropicales.

Ondo, R. 2001. Enquête socio-économique, CFAD du Haut-Abanga.

Présidence de la République gabonaise. 2001. Loi N°16/01 portant code forestier en République gabonaise.

Projet Forêt Environnement. 2000. Etude de faisabilité des forêts communautaires au Gabon.

Rougier Gabon & FRM. 2001. Plan d’aménagement de la CFAD du Haut-Abanga, période 2001-2006. July 2001.

Rougier Gabon & FRM. 2001. Rapport d'inventaire d'aménagement sur la CFAD du Haut-Abanga.

SYNFOGA/FRM. 2001. Etude pour l'intégration des petites et moyennes entreprises forestières dans le processus d'aménagement forestier.

Tancre, J. 2001. Réflexion sur la mise en place des techniques d'exploitation à faible impact sur la CFAD du Haut-Abanga. Evaluation du réseau actuel de pistes de débardage et de débuscage, mise en place d'une méthodologie pour un tracé optimisé des pistes préalablement à la mise en exploitation.

Ngotto forest, Central African Republic

Based on the work of Georges N’Gasse
ECOFAC, Central African Republic

Management of the Ngotto forest is the first pilot experiment in co-management with a logging company and reflects the will of the State in the Central African Republic. This integrated management with timber production as its goal is part of a more comprehensive rural development programme that includes other components (conservation and rural development). Implementation of a pilot project for sustainable forest harvesting in collaboration with a logging company is being carried out on the basis of a management plan and schedule of terms and conditions. The management plan approved by the authorities is now being implemented at field level. The needs of the local population are taken into account and logging is integrated into the local economy. A certification preaudit has been carried out.


The Ngotto forest, subject of Harvesting and Management Permit (HMP) 169, is located in the southwest of the Central African Republic, covering an area of 195 000 ha in the Lobaye and Sangha-Mbaéré Prefectures. The permit covers closed forest (60 percent of the total area), degraded forest (17 percent), temporarily flooded forest located along the watercourses crossing the area, and swamp forest along the Mbaéré river. There are also savannah lands bordering the permit area, crop and fallow land, and patchworks of savannah and single-species gallery forest. There are 115 typical forest mammal species in the area (elephant, buffalo, bongo, water buck, leopard, etc.), including eight primate species, while 330 bird species and 72 reptile species have also been recorded and a number of endemic species have been discovered.


Until very recently, the forest sector, which is part of the rural sector in the Central African Republic, had received no attention from authorities or donors, and only in the past ten years has special interest been directed to it. Forest regulations, previously based on the 1962 Forest Code, were modified by the new Law 90.003 promulgated on 9 June 1990 (with an application decree on 9 February 1991). The aim of the new code is to harmonize the demands of making the forest heritage profitable with those of conservation, using forest management to do so. It defines two types of forest: State forests (complete nature reserves, national parks, wildlife reserves, recreational forests, protected areas, reforestation areas and production forests) and community and private forests.

This new Forest Code requires those holding earlier temporary harvesting permits to convert them into HMPs within five years of its promulgation. A permit is then granted for the life of the company in question, committing the holder to follow the provisions of the plan established for the zone being harvested. It is accompanied by a schedule of terms and conditions governing the way harvesting activities are to be carried out within the management framework. Sixty percent of logs must be fully processed on-site. At present, only one of the nine logging companies operating in the southwest of the Central African Republic (the forest zone) is equipped with management and working plans. However, three projects have begun the process: the ECOFAC/Ngotto Forest Programme in 1992, the Salo Forest Management Project in 1994, and the Support Project for the Preparation of Forest Management Plans in 1999. Preparation of the Salo and Ngotto management plans reflects the government’s desire to implement the main clauses of current forest legislation.

HMP 169 was awarded to the Industrie Forestière de Batalimo (IFB) company, which operates with the aims of sustainable timber production and biodiversity conservation. The beneficiaries are the company, the State and the local population, including Pygmies (17 villages involved). Several parties are involved in management, including a French research organization (CIRAD Forêt, through the ECOFAC Programme), a private company (IFB), which has undertaken to implement the management plan, the ministry in charge of forests, and donors (ATO, EU). ECOFAC provides the government with a tool for methodological assistance and also a means of applying pressure on the logging company. In addition to HMP 169, the ECOFAC component intervention area also includes a sustainable development sector and the Mbaéré Bodingué Reserve.

The legal basis of the Central African Republic’s conservation policy was set up by the Department of Water, Forests, Hunting, Fishing, the Environment and Tourism. Order 84.045 of 27 July 1984 provides protection to wildlife and governs hunting in the country.


Management of the Ngotto forest is the first pilot experiment in the Central African Republic. HMP 169 was granted to IFB in 1996. Management and working plans were developed through a consensus and implemented by a ministerial decision of 10 March 1998. This management plan is part of a broader ECOFAC programme of rural development covering 800 000 ha, which also has other components (conservation and rural development).

Management of HMP 169 has the main objectives of avoiding the destruction of the stand that would occur very soon if no genuine long-term management were undertaken, improving the living conditions of the local inhabitants, and obtaining a certificate for timber extracted from it. Environmental management measures are also anticipated for the forest resource, and zones with a high biodiversity potential will be identified, studied and possibly allocated to a conservation or specific management block. Implementation of this pilot sustainable forest harvesting project is being carried out in collaboration with a logging company and on the basis of a management plan and schedule of terms and conditions established in advance by the government and ECOFAC. ECOFAC provides the company with better knowledge of the resources, and the company undertakes to follow the sustainable harvesting procedures proposed by ECOFAC.

A map of plant formations was drawn up on the basis of aerial photographs, with the help of a geographical information system. A management inventory was carried out between 1993 and 1995 by CIRAD Forêt (at 1 percent). Stems with a minimum diameter of 5 cm were counted for 25 m on either side of the survey lines. Ecological observations were also made on the basis of rapid surveys of wildlife and flora. The data were then assembled in a report, which was used in preparing the management plan.

The following factors helped IFB, ECOFAC and the supervising ministry to prepare the management and working plans together:

• IFB’s commitment to participating regularly in the various discussion meetings that led to a document with the endorsement of all the parties involved;

• IFB’s undertaking to implement this plan for the sustainable management of timber resources and the sustainable supply of its Ngotto industrial plant;

• the support of the government department in charge of forest management;

• the fact that the plan does not so far stipulate any silvicultural measures other than harvesting and pre- and post-harvest monitoring of the dynamics of the stand on monitoring plots.

In addition to vegetation type classification of the HMP 169 area, the following elements were agreed on together with IFB:

• definition of harvest potential;

• establishment of the division into felling plots;

• harvesting rules.

A 30-year rotation has been fixed. The permit area is divided into 30 plots so as to limit the area to be covered to ensure the anticipated annual harvest. A processing unit will gradually be brought into service with a development of capacity proposed by the concession-holder. Harvesting began in 1997/98 and the management plan was put into execution by ministerial decision in 1997.

The ECOFAC project monitors the ongoing relevance of the management plan and IFB’s harvesting activities. Some of the harvesting clauses are then evaluated by ECOFAC and the administration, and alternatives to inadequate clauses proposed.

Since 1999, 20 monitoring plots have been established on already harvested plots in order to study post-harvest regeneration and the phenology of sapelli seed-trees (the main species harvested). Sociological studies were also carried out in 2002 with a view to taking account of the local population’s needs and integrating harvesting activities into the local economy.

Ecorangers have been regularly patrolling the area covered by the ECOFAC component since inception of the HMP 1969 management plan. A preaudit was carried out in 2001 with a view to certification of the company’s concession.


The Ngotto experiment clearly provides a showcase for the Central African Republic’s forest policy. It has been promoted by the forest administration and attracted the attention of donors. The experiment owes its success to ECOFAC’s methodological and financial contribution, IFB’s undertaking to implement the plan and ensure a sustainable supply for its industrial plant, and the support of the supervising ministry.

The HMP 169 management plan is not a rigid document but is open to adjustment if necessary. Any uncertainty today is connected more with mounting the operation and integrating this new activity into companies’ other activities than with the technical content of the operation. There are large areas to be placed under management in a short time and local staff must be identified and trained. Logging companies are not necessarily in a position to make the major investments involved in a management inventory. It is therefore to be hoped that the Special Allocation Account for Forest Development and Tourism will provide financial support and that other donors will provide material assistance to accomplish this task. The support base of the company’s staff should also receive special attention in the management plan. Human capacity building should also be promoted with a view to improving productivity. A proposal for a training structure for logging companies’ field staff was approved by the Department of Water and Forests and was submitted to AFD in April 2002 for funding.

With regard to the supervision and staffing of operations in the field, it is to be hoped that in carrying out its work the Special Allocation Account for Forest Development and Tourism autonomous structure will take account of the lessons learned from the Support Project for the Preparation of Forest Management Plans. This project proposed national standards for timber resource management to the government in November 2002, and these proposals have since been approved and come into force.

Harvesting should not focus solely on high-value species and the list of marketed species should be expanded. Forest by-products should be incorporated into the management plan, for they can help to reduce the poverty of the local population. Other surveys of topography and indicators of degradation of the upper forest stratum will be made, and evidence of disturbance will be indicated. The impact of silvicultural practices must also be studied and those in tune with maintaining biological diversity recommended. Soil aspects should be incorporated, bearing in mind the many small-scale diamond mines in the region. Hunting and gathering areas for each village and settlement must also be defined. Complementary inventories will make use of the lines used for the forest management inventory. Thus revised, the management plan will then help in developing a forest code.

The aspirations of the local people must be taken into account when preparing the management plan and one of their representatives should if possible take part in meetings held in preparation for implementation of the plan. The local people and the main officers of the logging companies must be made aware and educated about sound practices recommended for sustainable forest resource management. It is also desirable to encourage the emergence of local NGOs so that they can become more involved with this approach. Exchanges of experience among forest managers, the institutions involved and local NGOs should be encouraged.

A committee with a clear mandate should be set up to monitor the viability of the management plan in order to allow a gradual withdrawal of the State. It is thus important to create an independent team to monitor the viability of the concession-holder’s management plan.

Other issues still remain, such as the major need for information for all forest stakeholders. The task of providing information, education and communication is without doubt essential, but also problematic, in that it is addressed to the administration, the logging company and the local population, all with very different and sometimes divergent expectations. Most of the people react immediately to the arrival of a logging company by demanding money. And former practices of collusion and petty corruption are still alive today.

In the short term, it is important to obtain certification of timber from the Central African Republic’s production forests. “Good pupils” should also be encouraged with incentives, thus spurring on companies that make an effort to implement management plans on their concessions and those that are moving towards secondary and even tertiary processing. Government support is therefore vital in obtaining guarantees in order to stimulate long-term investment in the sector.


CIRAD Forêt. 1996. Plan d’aménagement du PEA 169 de la forêt de Ngotto. Montpellier, France.

COSSOCIM. 1996. Mission d’appui au suivi du plan d’aménagement forestier du PEA 169 de la forêt de Ngotto en République centrafricaine.

Pokola-Kabo-Loundoungou concession
Republic of the Congo

Based on the work of Donatien N’Zala
Rural Development Institute, Marien N’Gouabi University

The experiment in multiple-use (timber production and biodiversity conservation) management of the Pokola-Kabo-Loundoungou forest undertaken by one of the country’s major logging companies and WCS shows that cooperation among a number of partners (government, private sector and NGOs) can assemble the conditions for implementing a management plan incorporating the social, silvicultural and environmental procedures essential for forest certification. The Congo has no experience of applying this type of management and the pilot nature of the multiple-use management described below is thus quite impressive.


The Pokola-Kabo-Loundoungou forest is located in the Sangha and Likouala administrative regions in the north of the Republic of the Congo. It is composed of three stands – Pokola, Kabo and Loundoungou – that have been allocated to the Congolaise Industrielle des Bois (CIB) company. The Pokola and Kabo stands are currently being harvested, while the Loundoungou stand is as yet untouched and being kept for the near future. The three stands cover a total area of 1 150 000 ha. A little over half is on firm ground and is thus suitable for sustained logging. The forest adjoins the Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park. It is part of the Guineo-Congolian forest and encompasses several types: firm-ground forest (sipo, sapelli, dabema, Gambeya spp., etc.), swamp forest along watercourses and in temporarily flooded areas (Uapaca spp., Pandanus spp., Raphia spp., etc.), limbali forest (Gilbertiodendron dewevrei), secondary forest in previously harvested areas (ilomba, ayous, umbrella tree, etc.) and clearings dominated by Cyperaceae, Poaceae, Hydrocaritacae, Zingiberaceae and Marantaceae beside watercourses. Wildlife in the forest includes mammal, reptile and bird species.


Law 004/74 of January 1974 was partially revised in 1982 (Law 32/82 regarding the Forest Code). At that time, the code was considered very modern, inasmuch as it stipulated sustainable forest harvesting, particularly through the creation of FMUs and the specification of AACs. The aim was to ensure sustainable forest activities by including concepts of rotation, regeneration of potential and on-site timber processing. The FMUs are basic forestry circles for carrying out the tasks of development, management, conservation, regeneration and production.

The Congo began preparing its Tropical Forest Action Plan in 1990, using new economic and environmental data, with the aim of privatization and government withdrawal from the production sector. The plan was completed in 1997 and became a reference point in drawing up the new Forest Code, which was introduced by Law 16/2000 and whose decree of application is now almost ready. This new code covers conservation of forest ecosystem vegetation. Wildlife conservation is still governed by Law 48/83 of April 1983, which specifies hunting seasons and controls such activity. However, a specific law should be drawn up for it in the future. Law 16/2000 covers aspects linked to customary rights over forest lands.

The institutional framework for forest management in the Congo is represented by the Ministry of Forest Economy in charge of Fishing and Fishery Resources. Institutional reform is still under way, with the establishment of such units as the National Centre for Inventories and Forest Management. An official structure in charge of the reforestation of closed forests – the National Reforestation Service – already exists. The forest administration is represented in the regions by the Regional Directorates of Forest Economy, which are responsible for the application of ministerial directives and national forest policy. Executive structures are still centralized in Brazzaville.

Logging rights are granted through an industrial processing agreement, a management and processing agreement, a felling permit for plantations, or a special permit. An industrial processing agreement, which covers 15 years and is renewable, guarantees the right to extract annual quotas of specified species from an FMU, and the holder is obliged to process the logs in a plant of its own. A management and processing agreement carries the same conditions, but the logging company must also carry out specified silvicultural work. It applies to fairly large areas and long periods so that the concession-holder can carry out the management programmes agreed upon, although it cannot exceed 25 years, indefinitely renewable.

Allocation of CIB’s concessions is made through an industrial logging contract for three FMUs (Pokola, Kabo and Loundoungou). The company employs roughly 1 350 people and produces 280 000 m3 of roundwood, 61 percent of which is processed and 19 percent simply cut up as lumber, 16 percent of this for export. CIB is thus responsible for timber harvesting and processing. The forest administration carries out and monitors the forest management plan, while forest regeneration is entrusted to the National Reforestation Service through the Pilot Management, Reforestation and Agroforestry Unit. A partnership has existed since 1999 among the forest administration, CIB and WCS regarding sustainable management of forest concessions in the northern Congo. This collaboration has enjoyed support from ITTA through the Programme for the Ecosystem Management of the Peripheral Zone of the Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park.


The memorandum of agreement among CIB, the Ministry of Forest Economy and WCS was signed on 2 June 1999, creating a favourable context for inception of this management project. CIB has developed the social and environmental aspects as well as the strictly “forest” aspects of the management plans for its three FMUs. This process took the initial form of a feasibility study by Forêt Ressources Management, a French consultancy firm, completed in 2000. CIB then joined together with Tropical Wood Environment to carry out the studies needed as a basis for management plans. WCS assisted CIB on all wildlife management activities. The length of the project (three years) corresponds to the preparation and formulation of the management plan.

The first essential step towards preparation of a management plan is a management inventory covering the whole harvestable area in order to know the current state of the forest and thus assess the resource and how it will evolve in the medium term. The inventory is supported and complemented by forest mapping, which stratifies the area. The management inventory was made by Tropical Wood Environment and financed by AFD, and its distinctive feature is that it takes account of biodiversity. Information about the concessions is collected thanks to forest vegetation type classification using satellite images and aerial photographs, followed by work on the ground (cutting lines, counting trees, measuring diameters, assessing quality and carrying out supplementary surveys, including biodiversity). Forest products other than timber and wildlife are identified. Present and potential extraction zones for these products are then identified with the help of the geographical information system. WCS is now developing a method for making a wildlife inventory and recording hunting activities. Collection and processing of the data then allow maps of the distribution of the resource, for example, to be drawn up.

The forest management plan lays down the technical operations to be carried out. It fixes the AAC, rotation length and other important factors to be taken into account, such as the annual growth in diameter, annual mortality and felling damage. It prescribes an appropriate felling cycle and the division of the FMU into harvesting blocks, divided in turn into annual felling plots. Reduced-impact logging methods will be adopted for timber harvesting. However, there are as yet no official standards for forest operations in the Congo. Reduced-impact logging is still in the experimental stage at CIB while the management plan is being prepared.

The lack of research and the nature of the anticipated harvesting method (reduced-impact logging) perforce require a less intensive type of silviculture. The silvicultural approach adopted consists of improving natural stands (removal of non-commercial species around saplings of commercial species with a diameter of 10 to 40 cm). Post-harvest enrichment operations are also carried out (thinning of strips where seedlings of commercial species are planted). Some seed-trees are also retained.

Wildlife management in harvesting areas focuses on habitat conservation, hunting restrictions, etc. Similar measures can be adopted for NWFPs. NWFP sites are identified and demarcated, and logging of such areas will be prohibited if necessary. Special silvicultural practices will be introduced for the main NWFP-producing species. Identification of sites with high biodiversity can lead to the creation of conservation blocks, while identification of particular ecological risks can lead to protection blocks. Biodiversity conservation or promotion measures will be taken on production blocks, such as the conservation of seed-trees and the retention of aerial bridges between crowns for young primates.

Forest administration agents carry out field-level monitoring of FMUs. Moreover, at project level, a technical consultation committee meets once a year to monitor observance of the contract established among the partners. Forest law stipulates that any holder of a harvesting permit must apply to the forest administration each year for approval of the annual cut. This application must include a map indicating count results and also existing and planned stockyards, roads and tracks. The forest administration is responsible for verifying the accuracy of counts and making sure that limits laid down for annual cuts have been observed. Every three months the logging company has to provide the forest administration with a production statement showing species and purpose. At the end of the year, it also has to submit a summary annual statement of production volumes to the forest administration, indicating species and purpose. Any violation of the harvesting regulations noted by the forest administration is penalized by fines.

The management plans for the Pokola, Kabo and Loundoungou FMUs must be ready by February 2003. Inventory work is at present well advanced. CIB is implementing and financing collective activities of socio-economic interest.


The forest management plan is based on available scientific information, but such information is at present inadequate for preparing management plans for closed tropical moist forests, while the planning process is even more complicated for multiple-use management. There is no experience of this type of management in the Congo, so that the pilot nature of the management effort makes it particularly important.

There are as yet no standards governing forest activities. Moreover, research on ecosystem functioning is rudimentary. The weaknesses identified in forecasting tools seriously affect the predictive value of the management plan and need to be addressed. It would therefore seem important to set up permanent observation plots. However, even if harvesting techniques are not yet optimal, current management schemes do have a better knowledge of the environment and resources than previous pilot schemes, which were never actually implemented.

The following innovations in forest practices have been put into practice on these concessions:

• management of this forest incorporates not only the production aspect but also the social and ecological roles of the forest; it also encourages the development of a local timber processing industry;

• biodiversity is taken into account in the multiresource management inventory and wildlife management is incorporated into the whole management process;

• there is close collaboration among the various actors and stakeholders; the forest administration is both partner and facilitator in this process;

• the company is responsible for funding and implementation of the management plan;

• when a large area of forest is harvested under a long-term contract linked to local timber processing, it is easier for the concession-holder to adopt sustainable management practices;

• traditionally marginalized users (Pygmies) also participate in the process.

Information on current management experiments in the country and the region should be disseminated, with a view to improving current practices. The role of the management unit in supervision and internal monitoring of the process should be expanded. Internal incentives are also important and a bonus for good management could encourage companies to adopt sustainable forest management.

Sustainable forest management must be profitable for all stakeholders. In a multiple-use forest, the success of the management plan depends on communication and close collaboration between the parties involved. Solid partnerships, with clearly defined roles and responsibilities, are therefore essential.

However, companies lack skills and professional training, particularly in management units, while managerial staff are not fully conversant with forest management practices. There is no local processing industry with sufficient capacity. The laxity of the forest administration in enforcing the law should also be noted. Apart from the lack of national forest management standards, management costs are fairly high, varying from company to company. On-the-job training of staff in new techniques would appear to be indispensable, but staff also have to realize that forest administration agents are called to become partners or facilitators in a process of co-management.


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