According to FAO (2015), Cameroon has around 18.8 million hectares of forest land, which constitutes almost 40% of the total land area. 26 000 hectares (0.1% of the forest area) is categorised as planted forest. Forest land cover in Cameroon has declined for the last 25 years with a loss of around 1.0% forest cover per year, which is one of the highest deforestation rates in the Congo Basin.
The main drivers of deforestation in Cameroon are conversion to agriculture, from both large and medium-scale plantations, as well as smallholders, fuel-wood harvesting, mining and infrastructure development, while unsustainable and illegal logging has been identified as one of the main drivers of forest degradation in Cameroon. Illegal logging has long been recognised as a significant problem in Cameroon. Concerns have been raised over the misuse of certain logging permits in the country, and the lack of effective regulation and law enforcement (Hoare, 2015).
Cameroon’s forests are mainly tropical rainforests of two predominant types: lowland evergreen (54% of total forest area), and lowland semi-deciduous (28%). The evergreen forests can be divided into two broad categories: The Biafran forests, a low altitude coastal forest along the Gulf of Guinea, and the Congo Basin forests in Cameroon’s south and southeast. Biafran forests have been largely cleared, but where it still exists, it is characterised by species such as Azobé (Lophira alata) and Ozouga (Sacoglottis gabonensis). The species composition of the Congo Basin forests differ significantly from that of the Biafran forest, and an important species of these forests is Moabi (Baillonella toxisperma). Other commercial tree species harvested include Sapelli (Entandrophragma cylindricum) and Sipo (Entandrophragma utile) and Ayous (Triplochiton scleroxylon).
The Forest Law (1994) divides the forest area into non-permanent (domaine forestier non-permanent), including community forest and private forest, and permanent (domaine forestier permanent) forest areas. The permanent forest includes forest reserves, logging concessions, protected areas and council forests. Protected areas cover approximately 4.7 million hectares, which is around 10% of the land area (WRI, 2014). The permanent forest areas are owned by the state, although for a large part of this forest area the management rights are transferred to other parties. Generally, people living in forest areas fully retain their traditional user rights.
In the non-PFE (domaine forestier non-permanent) non-allocated lands are mainly used by local communities for farms and other purposes, and allocation of these lands to communities shall follow formal procedures. However, disputes over forest ownership and the demarcation of boundaries have been common in the past and remain so today (ITTO, 2011).
Production and export
According to ITTO (2017) the Cameroonian forest industry produced about 3.2 million m3 of logs in 2015. The majority of this volume is used for the export of a primary timber products, which account for a total export value of 900.4 million US dollars in 2015.
Although the majority of the logs are processed within the country, the production of highly processed products is still relatively rare. The forest industry mainly produces primary timber products, with the main export products being logs, sawnwood, plywood and veneer. Main commercial timber species include:
- Ayous (Triplochiton scleroxylon)
- Azobé (Lophira alata)
- Iroko (Milicia excelsa)
- Kossipo (Entandrophragma candollei)
- Movingui (Distemonanthus benthamianus)
- Okan (Cylicodiscus gabunensis)
- Sapelli (Entandrophragma cylindricum)
- Tali (Erythrophleum ivorense; Erythrophleum suaveolens)
The Cameroonian exports are sold to all regions of the world. Besides overland export routes to other African countries, most timber is exported via the main port of Douala. This port is also used as one of the main ports for the export of timber harvested in the Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic.
Sources of information
- FAO (2015) Global Forest Resources Assessment 2015
- Fordaq - timber trade network
- Forest Legality Alliance risk tool - Cameroon
- Hoare, A. (2015) Illegal Logging and Related Trade: The Response in Cameroon
- ITC (International Trade Centre) calculations based on UN Comtrade statistics
- ITTO (2011) Status of tropical forest management 2011 – Cameroon
- ITTO (2015) ITTO Biennial review and assessment of the world timber situation 2013-2014
- Protected planet - Cameroon
- World Port Source - Map of ports in Cameroon with container liner service.
- WRI Congo Basin Forest Atlas – Cameroon
- WRI (2014) Cameroon’s forest estate. December 2014.
The Ministry of Forests and Wildlife (Ministère des Forêts et de la Faune – MINFOF) is primarily responsible for forest policy, the forest legislative framework and the enforcement of forest laws, as well as for international conventions with respect to forests and wildlife. Within MINFOF there are three main technical directorates dealing with forestry: (1) the Direction des Forêts; (2) the Direction de la Promotion et de la Transformation des Produits Forestiers; and (3) the Direction de la Faune et des Aires Protégées.
Commercial forestry is primarily implemented in the permanent forest domain through industrial logging concessions which are allocated by public tender both to Cameroonian and foreign entities. Forest Management Units (Unités Forestières d’Aménagement – UFA) are the basic unit of harvesting with a maximum size of 200,000 hectares and are managed on the basis of 30 years. A forest concession consists of one or several UFAs. According to their license contracts, holders of forest concessions must link their concessions with industrial processing units, thus providing stable employment in remote rural communities and additional revenue flows for the state (ITTO, 2011).
Besides forest concessions there are various other types of Forest Exploitation Titles (WRI, 2012), which include:
- Council forests. Rural councils have the legal right to apply for a forest estate within the permanent forest domain, following the preparation of a management plan approved by the forest administration. Council forests are essentially forest concessions, but they are under the jurisdiction of the rural council instead of the national government and can be leased out for logging rights during a public bidding process.
- Community forests are areas within the non-permanent forest domain zoned for exclusive use by village communities. A village community seeking a forest title identifies a zone not exceeding 5,000 ha and submits an application to the Government. Once the application is approved, a 2-year (non-renewable) provisional convention is signed between the Government and the community. During this period the community elaborates a simple management plan. It is after the approval of the management plan by MINFOF that the community can enter into permanent convention for 25 year renewable.
- Sales of Standing Volume (Vente de coupe) is a short-term, volume-based logging permit typically zoned within the non-permanent forest domain. Allocated through a competitive bidding process, these permits are valid for a maximum of 3 years and must not exceed 2,500 ha. A management plan is not required to be operational. Prior to granting this permit the MINFOF must ask the surrounding communities if they would prefer the creation of a community forest.
- Petits Titres, which is a category grouping together smaller-volume logging permits that cover situations not described in other titles. It includes timber recuperation permits (autorisation de récupération des bois - ARBs), timber evacuation permits (autorisation d’enlèvement des bois abattus - AEBs) and personal logging permits (autorisations personnelles de coupe - APCs). As a group, petits titres are attributed in the non-permanent forest domain to Cameroon nationals for a year.
Concessions are initially issued by means of a Convention provisoire d’exploitation. This provisional exploitation contract has a maximum duration of three years, and is not renewable. Within the three years after issuance of the provisional contract, the winner or owner of the concession must develop an inventory, a harvesting schedule and a 30-year management plan which is revised after every 5 years. This management plan needs to be approved by MINFOF. The management plan divides the area into various zones, including conservation and production. Additionally, the area is split into 30 annual harvest blocks (Assiettes Annuelles de Coupe - AAC).
Once the owner of the provisional exploitation contract has fulfilled its obligations, the Directorate of Forests issues a certificate of conformity (Attestation de conformité aux clauses de la convention provisoire d’exploitation) with the specifications of the provisional exploitation contract. The owner can then apply for a permanent or final exploitation contract (Convention définitive d’exploitation), which has a validity of 15 years renewable once. The final exploitation contract takes the form of a forest concession.
Before commencing harvest an annual operating plan is prepared by the company for the annual block of harvest (AAC), which is, together with a set of other documents, submitted to the Directorate of Forests for verification and approval. After approval the authorities issue a logging permit (Certificat annuel d’assiette de coupe) specifying the details of the allowed harvest, including volume and species. Additionally, the concessionaire needs to obtain an annual operating permit from the Directorate of Forests (Permis Annuel des Opérations - PAO).
Communities do not need detailed management plans, but they must obtain an Annual Exploitation Certificate (Certificat Annuel d’Exploitation) from the Directorate of Forests based on a Simple Management Plan.
Harvested logs need to be recorded in a worksite book (Carnet de chantier - DF10) for the specific forest management unit (UFA) and harvest block (AAC) the species, log dimensions and the corresponding barcode on a daily basis. This worksite book needs to be signed off by the authorities, who use it for determination of harvest tax. For the transport of the logs a waybill (Lettre de voiture - grumes) is used, which need to be signed of by the authorities. The details of the transported logs on this waybill need to correspond with the details in the worksite book.
Logs received by the processing facility are recorded in a secure Factory Wood Entry Register (Carnet d’entrée usine) which must be regularly submitted to the authorities as it is used to determine the sawmill entry tax. Processing facilities need to be in the possession of a Certificat d’enregistrement en qualité de transformateur de bois, demonstrating their legal existence as processing facility. Processed timber is transported using a waybill for processed timber (Lettre de Voiture – Débités). In order to export timber the exporter needs to be in the possession of an export authorisation (Autorisation d’exportation de bois – AEB) covering the specific batch.
The below listed key documents are based on the applicable legislation and are considered to play a key role in demonstrating legal origin. The full list of applicable legislation is accessible here (NEPCon).
Processing and Trade
Bans and quota
There is an export ban in place for exports of logs of the following species:
- Acajou (Khaya anthotheca)
- Afrormosia (Pericopsis elata)
- Aningré (Aningeria altissima)
- Bété (Mansonia altissima)
- Bossé (Guarea cedrata)
- Bubinga (Guibourtia tessmannii; Guibourtia demeusei)
- Dibétou (Lovoa trichiliodes)
- Douka (Tieghemella heckelii; Tieghemella africana)
- Fromager (Ceiba pentandra)
- Ilomba (Pycnanthus angolensis)
- Iroko (Milicia excelsa)
- Longhi (Gambeya spp.)
- Moabi (Baillonella toxiperma)
- Movingui (Distemonanthus benthamianus)
- Ovangkol (Guibourtia ehie)
- Padouk (Pterocarpus soyauxii)
- Pao rosa (Bobgunnia fistuloides)
- Red Doussié (Afzelia bipidensis)
- Sapelli (Entandrophragma cylindricum)
- Sipo (Entandrophragma utile)
- Wengué (Millettia laurentii)
- White Doussié (Afzelia pachyloba)
- Zingana (Microberlinia bisulcata)
Cites and protected species
There are two tree species listed on CITES Appendix II from Cameroon:
- Afrormosia (Pericopsis elata), with a quota of 14 400 m3 of logs, sawn wood and veneer sheets for 2015.
- Red stinkwood (Prunus africana); with a quota of 1.082.879 kg of dry bark for 2015.
The exploitation of Bubinga (Guibourtia tessmannii; Guibourtia demeusei) and Wengue (Millettia laurentii) has been suspended on the whole extent of the national domain since 2012, until these species are listed on the CITES appendices.
National action on timber legality
Cameroon signed a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) with the European Union in May 2010. The aims of the VPA are to strengthen forest governance, promote Cameroon's timber products and improve Cameroon's competitiveness in the international marketplace. The VPA also encourages investment in sustainable forest management and strengthens the capacity of forest stakeholders. Cameroon is currently developing the systems needed to control, verify and license legal timber, which include the development of a SIGIF II database (Système Informatique de Gestion des Informations Forestières, or Digitalised Forest Management Information System) which will be used to ensure timber traceability.
Third party certification
Forest certification has progressed rapidly in the past years. As per February 2016 Cameroon has 940,945 hectares of forest which are covered by FSC Forest Management certificates. The great majority of these forests are also covered by a OLB legality certificate. Cameroon currently has approximately 2.57 million hectares of forests which are certified under the OLB-scheme of Bureau Veritas. OLB stands for Origine et Légalité des Bois, which may be translated as Timber Origin and Legality. Cameroon has also some Rainforest Alliance certificates for Verification of Legal Compliance which cover approximately 244 thousand hectares. In the past there were some valid SGS TLTV forest statements, but these statements have expired and will not be renewed as SGS no longer offers the TLTV service anywhere in the world.
In Cameroon, a national PEFC Forest management certification standard is being developed. At the beginning of 2015, PAFC Cameroon announced the start of the national public consultation for the Cameroonian forest management certification standard. As this standard is not yet endorsed by PEFC, there are no forests certified under a PEFC certificate.
Sources of information
- Bureau Veritas Logging enterprise OLB certified bodies list
- Cameroon – EU (2010) Voluntary Partnership Agreement between the European Union and the Republic of Cameroon on forest law enforcement, governance and trade in timber and derived products to the European Union (FLEGT)
- Cameroon and the European Union. Joint Annual Report 2014 On the implementation of the FLEGT VPA in Cameroon
- CITES database
- Cameroon FLEGT VPA website
- Décret N° 99/781/PM du 13 octobre 1999 fixant les modalités d’application de l’article71(1)(nouveau) de la loi n°94/01 du 20 janvier 1994 portant régime des forêts, de la faune et de la pêche.
- EU FLEGT Facility - Cameroon
- Forest Legality Alliance risk tool – Cameroon
- FSC report “Facts & Figures” – February 2016
- Ministère des Forêts et de la Fauna (MINFOF)
- NEPCon Forestry risk profiles - Cameroon
- PAFC Cameroon
- Rainforest Alliance - Verification of Legal Compliance (VLC)
- WRI (2012) Interactive Forest Atlas of Cameroon. Version 3.0. Overview Report
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Source: Transparancy International