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Cameroon: Conclusions 2012

The entry into force of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) between Cameroon and the European Union just before 2012, and consequently the legal obligation to publish information on forests has brought about a real improvement in the legal framework in terms of access to information by the public in comparison with previous years. Respect for the commitments stated in Appendix VII of the VPA is an important issue for the promotion of transparency in the forest sector, and the implementation of all the requirements of this Agreement will help to strengthen legality and improve forest governance. Driven by the VPA, and other good governance processes such as REDD+, some progress has already been seen, notably reforms to the forestry and land tenure regimes, efforts to clean up the allocation of small logging permits, the adoption of a policy on land use planning, and the regular publication of some information such as summaries of infractions committed in forest areas.

Several problems persist, however, and there is a need for new measures to be initiated and to strengthen existing measures. In 2011 and 2012 the government has certainly taken strong initiatives to clean up the granting of smaller permits, notably through suspensions and seizures/confiscations and stopping renewals of such titles, and it started the process of adoption of a new legal framework, but these efforts remain insufficient and need to be strengthened even more. Small titles are still not included in the mapping system and information on them is very scarce and difficult to access. The customary rights of local and indigenous communities to land and resources are not guaranteed in the current land tenure regime, and are threatened by agro-industrial, forestry and mining projects, and also by large-scale infrastructure projects. Reviews of forestry and land tenure laws are in progress and could provide the opportunity to recognise the right to consent by communities, and guarantee their customary land rights, but the State is not very inclined to grant these rights. The lack of consultation with stakeholders before any allocation or issue of logging permits is an obstacle to the efforts of good governance made by the Government to date, because the transparency and reliability of the process have not really been guaranteed. The consultative structures for stakeholders instituted in 2012 within the framework of the implementation of the VPA do not ensure good consultation with civil society organisations and local and indigenous communities, nor their effective participation in decision-making processes. In addition to being under-represented, the latter do not have any real powers to guarantee that their concerns or points of view are taken into consideration. A review of the zoning plan is now an urgent need, and this process should take into account other extra-sectorial activities in all the regions in Cameroon and guarantee effective consultation with stakeholders and local and indigenous communities in particular to identify traditional or community lands.

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