Forestry policies, institutions and programmes
During the past ten years FAO has carried out some major studies within the framework of the Tropical Forests Action Programme, with the support of international aid, and these studies have led to a thorough-going reform of the Cameroonian forestry sector. This reform has provided the country with the basic tools needed for sustainable management of its forest heritage, with particular stress on forest management, which has been the object of various types of pilot initiative in a number of places in the country. Thus, in multipurpose forests (non-permanent forests), the aim of management is to meet the local people¿s needs for forest resources in a sustainable manner, whereas in permanent forests, the aim is to provide a permanent forest cover capable of sustaining production while preserving the biological diversity and balance of forest ecosystems.
The reforms undertaken by Cameroon have resulted most notably in the following:
- the creation of a Ministry of the Environment and Forests;
- the creation of a National Forest Development Office responsible for carrying out forest management, regeneration and reforestation activities;
- the organization of forest land under a zoning plan;
- the placing of production forests under management, and in particular the effective establishment of forest management units;
- the establishment of a new forestry policy codified by a new law, all translated into operational terms in a National Forestry Action Plan;
- the creation of a permanent committee to monitor implementation of the Yaoundé Declaration of March 1999, approved by the Summit of Heads of State of Central Africa on the Conservation and Sustainable Management of Tropical Forests;
- adoption of an Emergency Action Plan in November 1999, with the four following main thrusts:
- combating illegal extraction of forest resources;
- combating poaching;
- involving the local population;
- coordinating priority initiatives.
However, Cameroon still has to face the problem of managing its forests, a situation all the more worrying inasmuch as more than 2.5 million hectares have just been allocated to concession-holders and need to be placed under management in line with the new forestry policy and law.
In March 1999, Cameroon instigated the Summit of Central African Heads of State on the future of forests in this region, which contains the continent¿s largest stands of closed rain forest. The summit led to the implementation of a common platform for intervention based on the Yaoundé Declaration, with the Conference of Ministers in Charge of Central African Forests (COMIFAC) as the supervisory body. Given Cameroon¿s major role in forestry in Central Africa, this arrangement will allow it not only to make the best use of the technical instruments established over the past ten years, but also to set up a mechanism for consultation and coordination among cooperating partners, the private forestry sector and non-governmental organizations active in the sector. In June 2000 the country organized a Consultative Forum on Forests and the Environment with the participation of the World Bank, the United Kingdom¿s Department for International Development, the German Agency for Technical Cooperation and FAO. The forum had the aim of facilitating the sharing of knowledge and information, and also the reaching of a consensus as a basis for collaboration between the partners with a view to sustainable management of the country¿s forests.
Lastly, it should be noted that Cameroon is one of the most active countries in cooperation within the framework of the Ministerial Conference on Central African Moist Forest Ecosystems (CEFDHAC) and also one of the States concerned in the Yaoundé Summit on the Conservation and Sustainable Management of Central African Forests. The Yaoundé Declaration issued by this summit on 17 March 1999 is currently being implemented. The Under Director-General in Charge of Forests and the Head Forestry Officer from the Regional Office attended the first ministerial meeting on this subject, held in Yaoundé on 6-7 December 2000. On this occasion, CEFDHAC set up bodies to monitor implementation of the Yaoundé Summit (the Summit of Heads of State, the Ministerial Conference, an executive secretariat and a subregional forum of experts). Following this conference, Cameroon will certainly repeat its request to FAO to support this task in favour of the sustainable management of Central African forests.
Last updated: January 2003