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Cameroon: Lessons learnt 2010

Located near the Equator, Cameroon's forests are very rich and biologically diverse, with multiple functions and uses. They contribute considerably to the subsistence of local and indigenous communities by providing them with food, medicinal and cultural resources. They also play a part in the national economy through forest taxation, the creation of some 15,000 skilled and semi-skilled jobs, and the impacts of the timber industry. It is worth noting that forest-related economy remains largely focused around timber production and export, while processing remains less developed. The 2008 global financial crisis has badly impacted the sector in Cameroon due to a drop in timber use in importing countries, thereby highlighting the worrying weakness of the industrial logging model currently used in the country. This has caused a drop in production, and massive job losses as a consequence. The Cameroonian government came to the rescue of the logging industry by decreasing taxation temporarily in order to prevent those companies with logging titles from going bankrupt. Whilst the international timber market is starting to recover, the temporary measures have been maintained in 2011.

Other significant changes since last year's assessment include:

  • The anticipated progression to open auctions for small area permits did not happen, and these 'small titles' continue to be a source of illegal logging operations.
  • Cameroon held its first major Forest Forum, attracting some 1000 participants. This is indicative of a number of positive efforts by the forest authority to be more consultative. A Forest Forum Steering Committee was elected in December 2010.

The Transparency Study summarizing the 2009 Report Card for Cameroon was used in public meetings before and after its launch in Yaoundé. It was also used for discussions with the Forestry Department and some donor agencies in Cameroon, active in the fields of governance and forest management. The purpose was to ensure that some of the findings will be translated into policy objective for the administration and the donor community.

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