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Forest Governance Has Registered Positive Strides – Ngolle Ngolle 

By Nformi Sonde Kinsai

The Minister of Forestry and Wildlife, Prof. Elvis Ngolle Ngolle, has stated that the country’s forestry governance programme has made positive strides since it was put in place about a decade ago.

Prof. Ngolle Ngolle made the statement in Yaounde recently while responding to questions from the media shortly after opening an evaluation workshop of forest governance reform and control in Cameroon for the past ten years. He singled out the World Bank and the European Union as well as some NGOs and hailed them for their support that has and is still yielding positive results.

The Post gathered that the strides recorded within ten years include the elaboration and adoption of the Forest and Environment Sector Programme; issuance of timber extraction permits for exploitation within permanent and non-permanent forest domains; timber recovery permit; timber tracking system, punishment of recalcitrant forest exploiters and digitalised forest management information system. The Ministry has also set up the Forestry Revenue Enhancement Programme, the National Control Brigade and paid forest royalties to councils and local communities in areas of forest exploitation.

Meanwhile, Ngolle Ngolle said Cameroon has 22.5 million hectares of forests with some 17.5 million hectares being exploitable. He said the huge forestry potential of the country, which is today’s second provider of revenue to the state after petrol, is of national and international concern. The Minister said the strides already covered in the past decade by the forestry governance programme aimed at reforming and safeguarding the country’s forestry resources is irreversible.

Ngolle Ngolle  said the ministry will intensify the fight against corruption in the sector, punish forest law defaulters and publish audit reports regularly. He said as far as partnership with donor institutions like the World Bank and European Union remains intact, the future of Cameroon’s forest is bright. The European Union, EU, Delegate to Cameroon, Raul Matheus Paula, while admitting that the forestry sector reform is being consolidated in Cameroon, he, however, stated that the challenges to the forestry governance programme are still enormous.

He also talked of an aggressive media sensitisation of the public on the challenges of forest control. Paula highlighted inadequate finances and problems linked to inter-ministerial committee that sometimes affect operations of the forestry governance programme. The Director of Forestry, Samuel Ebia Ndongo, said the 1994 forestry law needs to be revisited in order to inject elements for its rigorous application.

The head of the National Control Brigade, Pierre Ndongmo talked of the role his outfit play and the types of control effected. He identified difficulties in the disbursement of funds, bad roads, inadequate working tools, absence of motivation, inadequate personnel, etc, as some of the problems hampering their activities. He called on the National Anti-Corruption Committee, CONAC, to investigate why most of their litigations against defaulting forest exploiters are thrown out of court.

A national strategy for the fight against corruption in the forestry and environment sector prepared by Alfred Etom of CONAC and Marius Talla of the CHOC project was also presented at the workshop.

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