Programme FAO-UE FLEGT

Use of legal timber now mandatory in public procurement in Cameroon


In Cameroon, Government orders account for the largest share of sawn wood and furniture purchased in the country.  As legal timber is scarce on the domestic market, these orders inadvertently support illegal timber production and trade. To address this issue, the Ministries of Forestry and Fauna (MINFOF), Public Works (MINTP) and Public Procurement (MINAMP) have recently issued a joint decree making the use of legal timber mandatory in public procurement in the country. All timber used in public works and supplies must now conform to a set of legal criteria and carry a legality certificate and a certificate of origin.

Reducing illegal timber production and trade

The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) reports that only 27 percent of the total volume of timber traded in Cameroon’s largest cities is legally sourced[1]. Of this, the Cameroonian government consumes an estimated 13 000 cubic meters of timber per year for the renovation of public infrastructure alone.

“By establishing legality criteria for timber used in public works, the new decree effectively incentivizes the production and trade of legal timber in the country”, stated Mr Djogo Toumouksala, Director of Promotion and Transformation of Forest Products of the MINFOF. The decree outlines measures to be taken by the MINFOF to increase the availability of legal timber in the domestic market, namely:

  • facilitating the commercialization of wood waste products;
  • assisting in the creation of timber supply contracts;
  • facilitating the verification of timber legality by public work managers.

This landmark policy is the result of sustained efforts led by CIFOR, the MINFOF and the Research and Action Center for Sustainable Development (CERAD), a national non-governmental organization, started in 2016 thanks to support from the FAO-EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Programme. In 2019, the Programme organized a regional workshop in Abidjan to discuss the challenges and opportunities of promoting legal timber through public procurement. The Cameroonian Delegation attended the workshop alongside stakeholders from Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Liberia, Republic of the Congo and Gabon, where it shared knowledge and reiterated its commitment to the development of public procurement policies for the purchase of legally sourced timber. Today, the decree shows the engagement of national authorities towards timber legality objectives, sustainable forest management and commitments made under the Voluntary Partnership Agreement signed in 2010.

In the long term, the measures foreseen by the Decree can lead to significant socio-economic benefits such as decreasing deforestation, contributing to the creation of regulated, safe, fairly remunerated employment and generating valuable tax income. The developments in Cameroon are likely to inspire other countries in the region, to follow suit and advance on ongoing similar initiatives.

The FAO-EU FLEGT Programme has been active in Cameroon since 2010 supporting several key work areas of the forest sector such as participatory decision-making processes, transparency, legal compliance of the private sector, legal timber trade in the domestic market.

Since 2016, the Programme has supported 29 projects in Cameroon, amounting to approximately USD 3.2 million.

The FAO-EU FLEGT Programme of the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations is a global demand-driven initiative that provides technical support and resources for activities that further the goals of the EU’s FLEGT Action Plan. The Programme is funded by the European Union, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office of the United Kingdom.

For more information:

FAO-EU FLEGT Programme 

FAO-EU FLEGT Programme in Cameroon

Press article in the Cameroon Tribune

Joint Decree full text in French