Environmental impact studies on specific projects are currently practiced in Cameroon; nevertheless they have their limits in terms of the evaluation of cumulative impacts. Cameroon does not have a specific law or regulation on strategic environmental evaluation. The framework law from 1996 on environmental management, like the forest law from 1994, does not deal with questions related to strategic environmental evaluation.
Exploitation of forests for logging, mining, large-scale agriculture or infrastructure projects is carried out without agreement between the different administrations that have responsibilities for the management of natural resources (Forests and Wildlife, Agriculture, Environment and Sustainable Development, Land and Property), and without cumulative impact studies. This means that the forests and the communities that live in them are under considerable threat. It is important to draw the government's attention to the need to implement the study of cumulative impacts in areas where several projects are either being carried out or are about to be granted.
Coordinated planning of land use and resources exploitation, taking into account potential environmental losses, is essential in order to avoid disputes related to land use. These disputes are increasing in Cameroon and are often the result of overlaps between different permits. For example, there are 30 mining prospecting permits affecting 12 protected areas, and 33 oil and mining prospecting permits have been granted within 16 different protected areas in Cameroon (1).
One of the responses of the Cameroon government to the problems of overlapping and inharmonious management of land and resources was the enactment of Law no. 2011/008 of 06 May 2011 providing guidance on sustainable planning and management of the territory in Cameroon. Nevertheless, the challenge is the effective application of this law in practice so that there is respect for the land rights of traditional communities and the conservation of the environment.
(1) WWF, CED & RELUFA, 2012. Emerging trends in conflicts linked to the use of land in Cameroon. Available at http://www.rightsandresources.org/documents/files/doc_5268.pdf