Cameroon forest

Briefing / March 1, 2005

IFM in Cameroon (2000-2005)

Cameroon's nearly 22 million hectares of forests are disappearing at an alarming rate. Illegal logging is rife and corruption is endemic within the forest sector. This threatens the ecological future of the country as well as the livelihoods of the people, the majority of whom see little or no benefit from the forest industry.

Global Witness carried out Independent Forest Monitoring (IFM) in Cameroon between 2000 and 2005. The Project of Independent Observation in Support of Forest Law Enforcement was implemented by under a series of Contracts and Terms of Reference. These pages provide a historical record of our 123 Field Mission Reports and firstsecond and third Summary Reports. The structure of the next phase of the project, from 2005, presented a number of threats to the independence of the Observer, and therefore Global Witness decided not to submit an offer for this phase, tendered by the EU.

The project started when the UK Department for International Development (DFID) invited Global Witness to carry out two scoping missions in July and October of 2000, with the objective of identifying the nature and scope of illegality in the Cameroonian forestry sector, as well as assessing the need for full-time IFM in the country.

Both scoping missions confirmed widespread illegal activities carried out by various leading forest companies in Cameroon, as well as high levels of corruption within the forestry administration. Furthermore, the missions proved that efficient field work and professionalism in monitoring resulted in objective information on forest crimes that could make cases for prosecution, hence sending a strong deterrent to illegal operators, hitherto fearless of receiving any punishment.

Subsequently, Global Witness was appointed the Independent Observer in support of Forest Law Enforcement in May 2001 for a transition period of six months, with financial support from the World Bank, DFID and the EU. We were later reappointed for a further six months in February 2002. During this time, the Ministry of the Environment and Forestry (MINEF) and the donors agreed on the principle that the Independent Observer should be appointed through a competitive process, and in May 2002, Global Witness and MINEF signed a two-month renewable contract until an international bidding process was launched. Global Witness operated on this basis until the end of March 2005.

At the end of this phase in the project, Global Witness and others undertook a period of critical reflection, the results of which our outlined in our achievements, lessons and recommendations.