Tuesday, November 13, 2018
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Illegal Forest Exploitation Still Rife In Cameroon 

By Yerima Kini Nsom
The Head of an Independent Observer Mission for forest control and follow-up of forest related offences, Dr. Marie Mbole, says despite a sustained fight, illegal forest exploitation is till rife in the country.
She made the statement while presenting the mission’s final report during the 7th steering committee meeting of the outfit in Yaounde recently. Created by the Minister of the Economy, Planning and Regional Development, MINEPAT, on April 9, 2010, the Mission’s mandate will end on December 31.
It was for this reason that the Mission presented its final report on December 18 at the Djeuga Palace Hotel in Yaounde. While highlighting some aspects of the report, Dr. Mbole said forest-related offences were still widespread in Cameroon.
 “There is unauthorised logging, where people just go into the forest and cut down trees without authorisation. You also have the non-respect of technical forest norms and also what is known as social requirements which contribute to local development,” she said.
According to the expert, these violations virtually reduce the development that is expected to trickle down from the forest sector.
She, however, remarked that forest exploitation related offences have reduced significantly as compared to what obtained before their Mission was created. To her, the public is now very much aware that the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife punishes such offences. It was in this respect, she went on, that members of the public have been called to denounce violations and malpractices in the forestry sector. 
She said the Ministry of Forestry sanctions defaulters once they get evidence of wrongdoing. “If someone is carrying out unauthorised logging in the non-permanent forest estate, he will be slammed between FCFA 200, 000 to FCFA 1 million fine and an imprisonment term of six months. But if it is in the permanent forest estate, he will pay a fine of FCFA 300 000 to FCFA 10 million and a six-month imprisonment term,” she explained.
It is because of such deterrent measures, she observed, that such offences have reduced. “We have significantly reduced forest-related offences mainly in the permanent forest estate. Secondly, we have put in place a working climate within the Ministry of Forestry and now there is true collaboration between all the technical services of the ministry and this is very important for the management of forest resources,” she said 
For his part, the Director of Forestry in MINFOF, Bruno Mfou’ou Mfou’ou, who chaired the meeting, said the Independent Observer Mission has contributed much in instilling transparency in the management of forest exploitation. “Offences are punished…basically the Mission helped us in capacity building and they are leaving us today with a control guide, which will be used daily by forest agents. What they did was that they observed and denounced and the Ministry carried out the sanctions. Now there is less illegal exploitation of forest resources,” he said.
Such a situation, he said, has made it possible for ordinary Cameroonians to benefit from forest exploitation.

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