In its latest progress report (1) on Independent Forest Monitoring (IFM) in Cameroon Global Witness (2) concludes that Forest Law Enforcement in Cameroon is improving, and Independent Forest Monitoring (3) has had a significant impact on the reduction of large scale illegal logging in the forestry sector. But progress in enforcing compliance with the law and penalising perpetrators by the Cameroonian authorities remains disappointingly slow (4).
Global Witness has implemented IFM in Cameroon for the last three years, and its latest Summary Report published today covers the period between July 2003 and February 2005. During this time, there have been clear signs that some forms of illegality related to commercial concessions have decreased and a strong message has been sent that logging activities are under international scrutiny. Furthermore, field level forest law enforcement officials have shown improved professionalism and commitment.
But the institutional changes needed in the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife and elsewhere to sustain this improvement are slow-paced, and many of the recommendations made in the previous report, published in October 2003, are yet to be implemented. Moreover, although observed illegality in commercial concessions appears to have declined, the demand for high-value timber has remained high and illegal activities in other parts of the forest estate have become more apparent. This has particularly been the case in Community Forest areas, which are widely abused by influential individuals and timber companies who are extracting timber for their own commercial purposes, in breach of the law. This undermines the purpose of such category of forests, specifically created as areas preserved from large-scale, industrial logging.
'Independent evaluations clearly show that the positive impact of IFM in Cameroon is widely recognised by the government, the donor community, civil society and some in the industry.' said David Young, head of IFM at Global Witness. 'However, as enforcement has become effective in some areas illegal activity has become more sophisticated and more pernicious elsewhere. It is essential that a strong and independent monitor remains able to fully investigate and publicly report criminality and corruption if these new challenges are to be addressed. IFM must continue to support increased accountability and transparency in the forest law enforcement system, until the monitor's role can be played by a confident and effective local civil society'.
For further information, please contact David Young on 020 7561 6392 or Laura Furones on 020 7561 6365.
(1) Forest Law Enforcement in Cameroon: Third Summary Report of the Independent Observer, July 2003 - February 2005. Hardcopies in English and French are available from Global Witness. Please see www.globalwitness.org for soft copies.
(2) Global Witness is a British-based non-governmental organisation, which focuses on the links between natural resource extraction and conflict.
(3) IFM is the use of an independent third party, which, by agreement with the state authorities, provides an assessment of legal compliance, and observation of and guidance on official forest law enforcement systems.
(4) The Ministry of Forests and Wildlife (MINFOF) is the government institution responsible for forest law enforcement. The resulting fines of any illegal logging activity are collected by the Forestry Tax Revenue Securing Programme, managed by MINFOF, and the Ministry of Economy, Finances and Budget (MINEFIB). As of September 2004, only about 31% of fines had been collected.
Press Release / June 16, 2005