The types of commercial forest operations that are subject to agreement with the State are forest concessions and logging sales. The operating agreements contain a detailed description of the technical requirements. Regarding social obligations, these are set out by the operator in the specifications signed with the State and negotiated with local residents during an information meeting. The agreements from this meeting are attached as an integral part of the operator's specifications.
In general, there are two main categories of title in Cameroon: those that are systematically allocated by tender (forest concessions and sales of standing timber), and those that can be granted by auction or by mutual agreement (logging permits and other permits for the exploitation of special forest products, personal logging permits, permits for the recovery and withdrawal of timber). In effect, logging permits for timber and certain special forest products in a list drawn up by the administration are agreed after the advice of a competent committee, whereas the permits for the exploitation of other special forest products, firewood and poles, and personal logging permits are allocated by mutual agreement. Timber Removal Authorisations linked to development projects (road building, plantations, etc.) are allocated through a tender procedure on the basis of inventory results, and are issued by the Ministry of Forests and Wildlife (MINFOF) following consultation with an inter-ministerial committee. Timber Salvage Permits are allocated by MINFOF in a process whereby the regional delegate requests permission from the Ministry to auction off abandoned wood.
In the the first category of titles systematically allocated by tender, the process is subject to the rules of transparency: the zones for logging operations are marked out, a tender is called, the technical and financial offers are studied and the forests are allocated to the highest bidder. Moreover, the Independent Observer attached to the inter-ministerial commission monitors the allocation process, although the contracts, agreements and permits are not systematically made available, not even by this observer.
As for the second category of permits, the allocations of Timber Removal Authorisations and Timber Salvage Permits sometimes contravene legal provisions and regulations. Indeed, they are not clearly identified (there are no existing maps) and they are strongly linked to illegal operations in Cameroon. Several calls have been made by the CED to annul them.
Following denunciations by civil society stakeholders and checks by the Independent Observer and the Control Brigade, the MINFOF eliminated around 72 operators and suspended 10 forestry officials in 2011. Furthermore, through a letter addressed to the Prime Minister in August 2011, it has taken a number of decisions, among them stronger supervision and seizures / sanctions, and systematically subjecting the Timber Removal Authorisations to a tender procedure under the auspices of an inter-ministerial committee. Following pressure to bring these permits in line with the requirements of the VPA, since taking office following his appointment in December 2011 the new Minister for Forests has decided not to renew any small title until a process of stabilisation and consolidation has been completed, together with the regulation of the sector that includes - among other things - a coherent, comprehensive and rigorous framework that can be enforced on all stakeholders in the sector.
The Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) with the European Union also represents an opportunity to sort out the issue of access to information on smaller permits (such as automatic integration of maps into the existing mapping system) and ensure the enforcement of the legal framework in their management. Implementation of the VPA requires procedures for ensuring the legality of all commercial forestry operations, which includes smaller permits.
|Order no. 0222/A/MINEF/ of 25 May 2001 on Procedures for the elaboration, approval, monitoring and supervision of implementation of the management of productive forests of the permanent forest estate.
List of documents on commercial forest operations
|MINFOF, MINEP, GiZ ProPSFE
Accessed in December 2012