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Research Report

Forests, Illegality, and Livelihoods in Cameroon

Paolo Omar Cerutti
Luca Tacconi
Copyright Date: Jan. 1, 2006
Pages: 28
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 1-2)

    This paper addresses the state of illegal forest activities (IFAs) in Cameroon, with particular attention to environmental outcomes and implications for livelihoods. We provide suggestions to the government and donor community about priority areas for interventions related to IFAs, sustainability, and livelihoods.

    The case of Cameroon has global relevance. The country is among those at the centre of global concern about illegal logging.¹ Cameroon is one of the few countries that are actively preparing for the negotiation of Voluntary Partnership Agreements. These agreements are one of the policy tools of the Action Plan for Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade...

  2. (pp. 3-6)

    The period 1970 to 1999 saw important structural changes in the forest sector. These changes had several implications, which we note upfront. First, the large forest domain of the state, derived from the process of appropriation of forest lands previously controlled by local communities (Ascher 1999), was put under more intensive production by the government with the support of international and national donor organizations. In the 1980s, the expansion of the forestry sector certainly brought economic benefits to Cameroon, by satisfying the growing domestic demand for timber. Second, the introduction of the 1994 forestry law was supposed to benefit the...

  3. (pp. 7-12)

    In the previous section we noted that the 1994 forestry law introduced significant changes to the process of allocation of forest concessions. In that context we consider apparent illegalities associated with awarding logging permits to large and small-scale operations. The environmental concerns driving global interest in illegal logging in Cameroon at the end of the 1990s have led several organizations to focus on the volume of logs harvested and exported illegally. A review of the literature shows that in the case of Cameroon the most recent concerns about the illegally harvested and exported volumes of timber have not been based...

  4. (pp. 13-15)

    In this section we discuss IFAs and decisions taken by the public administration that probably have significant negative impacts on livelihoods.

    The number of Cameroonians involved in logging activities had already grown significantly during the period of economic depression (Bubinga 1999), and was further boosted by the delay in the attribution of concessions and the consequent lack of timber for large-scale operators in the second half of the 1990s. The number of national accredited loggers grew from 296 in 1987 (Eba’a Atyi 1998) to 519 in fiscal year 1997/98. The amount of wood harvested by individuals or small enterprises grew...

  5. (pp. 16-17)

    During the past decade the international community has increasingly focused on illegal logging and its potential negative impacts. Illegal logging has been perceived to be widespread, to cause significant environmental damage, and to impoverish rural communities that depend on forests (Contreras-Hermosilla 2002; European Commission 2004). Our study of Cameroon shows that the reality of illegal logging is much more nuanced and there is a need to focus on a set of IFAs wider than illegal harvest.

    We have documented how the quantitative estimates of illegally harvested timber in Cameroon had distorted the original sources and were not based on sound...