Cameroon strengthens its legal timber sector


Douala, Cameroon - Improved transparency in Cameroon’s forest sector – a key requirement of a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) with the European Union (EU) – is playing a critical role in the gradual establishment of a legal timber sector in the country, according to a new report by the FAO-EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Programme.

Since signing the VPA in 2010, the Republic of Cameroon has been committed, along with its European partner, to implement this bilateral trade agreement, which aims to combat illegal exploitation of timber and improve governance within the sector. Although the system for verifying the legality of timber, as outlined in the agreement, is still under development, a growing number of important reforms in State management of the sector have been implemented, particularly making public information about the monitoring of logging operations.

“Recent progress in terms of transparency, as demonstrated by the national forestry administration’s online, public posting of important information documenting the regularity of activities of forest and sector operators, represents a significant improvement in forest governance,” said Marc Vandenhaute, Forestry Officer of the FAO-EU FLEGT Programme and co-author of the report released in late October in Cameroon.

“These figures also provide an official framework that was previously non-existent, thus enabling all operators in the Cameroon forest sector to strengthen the role played by the criteria of origin, traceability and legality in the establishment of their supply chains.”

At the international level, companies in the timber sector can now take advantage of European Union Timber Regulations (EUTR), which encourage timber importers and Cameroonian suppliers to engage in better informed trade policies. At the national level, small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the timber sector can implement development strategies based on the valorisation of known and legal supply sources, with the support of partners such as the FAO-EU FLEGT Programme.

In this context of increasing transparency, the report suggests concrete ways to support private sector involvement, especially among SMEs, in implementing the VPA and more broadly, efforts to improve the forest sector governance in Cameroon.

The report, released in French, was presented in Douala in late October at the 17th Meeting of the Parties of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership. The annual conference brings together nearly 600 participants from countries within the sub-region and stakeholders including donors, development agencies and civil society to improve forest governance in the Congo Basin.

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