Community forest useful tool for poverty alleviation
An evaluation WWF and MINFOF (Ministry of forestry and wildlife) carried out on the management of 15 community forests in the Boumba and Ngoko Division of the East Region of Cameroon in 2017 shows that 1171 direct temporary jobs were created, with 30 and 15 percent of jobs for Baka and women respectively. Revenue generated from wood exploitation amounted to FCFA 72 million, exclusive of non-timber forest products. Of this sum, 60 percent was dedicated to development projects such as education, health and housing while the remaining 40 percent was used for the day-to-day running of the community forest management body.
The report highlights weaknesses in the management process such as lack of information on environmental impact of wood exploitation, poor restoration of exploited forest and weak transparency in management of generated revenue.
To share the results of this evaluation, 40 local actors comprising community forest managers, representatives of local NGOs and personnel of the ministry of forestry and wildlife (MINFOF) met in Yokadouma on November 16. Organised by WWF and MINFOF, the meeting was used to train the participants on continued data collection on the socio-economic and environmental impact of the exploitation of community forests.
“The training was based on real needs of the actors involved in community forest management as we have from time to time noticed unorthodox practices due to ignorance on their part. These actors need constant training for more effective management for the wellbeing of the target populations,” explains Nicolas Tamafo, MINFOF local Delegate for Boumba and Ngoko Division.
Harmonising the price of a cubic metre of wood, ensuring continuous data on the socio-economic and environmental impact of wood exploitation and better accountability are actions participants agreed to undertake to improve revenue generated as well as overall management of their community forests.
“Some progress has been made compared to previous years. We are optimistic that if the weaknesses observed are addressed, community forests will have more impact in the lives of concerned communities while the natural environment would be maintained,” says Alphonse Ngniado, WWF Senior Forest Officer.
The Cameroon 1994 forestry and wildlife law provides that communities around protected areas can request and acquire the right to manage forest of up to 5000 hectares for a period of 25 years and use revenue accruing from the exploitation of timber and non-timber forest products to finance local development following a simple management plan. WWF supports communities in this process as a way to foster participatory and sustainable forest management.