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Logging To Begin In Ngoyla-Mintom Forest 

By Ernest Sumelong — The government of Cameroon has attributed some 49 percent (429 893) of the relatively undisturbed, 943,000 hectares Ngoyla-Mintom Forest Massif, for wood exploitation, leaving out some 51 percent (441 497) for conservation.

Ngoyla-Mintom forest

The forest block that straddles Ngoyla Subdivision in the East Region and Mintom Subdivision in the South is the last expanse of unexploited forest in Cameroon. For some of the people of Ngoyla, forest exploitation has come to provide what conservation had “promised for decades but failed to deliver”.

For others, it is a regrettable decision coming at a time when the population was on the brink of benefiting from conserving their forest. No matter their point of views, one scenario remains inevitable, the people of Ngoyla, a small Subdivision in the Upper Nyong Division, in the East Region, will soon witness the rumbling of chainsaws and the tumbling of timber trucks transporting wood out of the region.

“Today, the Government of Cameroon has decided to give out Ngoyla forest for logging, we welcome this decision and hope it’s going to trigger development in the Sub-division if the management of these resources respects the principles of sharing established by the State, ” states Alphonse Bametol, the Mayor of Ngoyla.

“I think the government has acted well because part of the forest has been allocated for conservation,” Bametol said. For Mamia Bikanda, Divisional Officer for Ngoyla Sub-division, the people welcome the decision by the Government giving part of the forest for commercial logging and they are preparing for it. MINFOF’s decision, however, does not go down well with some local people.

“We are surprised at the decision to give out this forest for logging, because we had been prepared for conservation,” complained Eboll Jean-Pierre, President of one of the Comité Paysan Forêt, a local group that acts as interlocutor between economic operators and local communities. “We would have wished it were conservation because we had been sensitised to it by World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), and we had adhered to it,” Eboll said.

According to Jean-Bernard Njoubap, member of the civil society, the people of Ngoyla expected the forest concessions to be attributed for conservation not wood exploitation. “We have noticed that logging has not brought development to local people in other localities.” Despite their differences, the people of Ngoyla nurse similar fears. “

We have never experienced commercial logging before. We have learnt that forest exploiters always seek to cheat local people,” said Alphonse Bametol, Mayor of Ngoyla. “We shall seek help from experts in order to ensure that the people benefit from this exploitation.” “We hope the preoccupations of our people will be addressed. We need potable water, we need schools, we need better housing and good roads,” said Eboll.

Ngoyla-Mintom forest block was the last remaining massif now being partly attributed for logging. It is composed of wildlife corridors for the movement of iconic species such as elephants, mandrills, gorilla etc. among TRIDOM’s many protected areas (bio-connectivity).

In 2000, the Government of Cameroon had frozen the nine forest management units that make up the forest block and declared the area a conservation concession. This decision to attribute the forest for logging put paid to this exceptional status. “We are comforted, however, by the fact that the Government of Cameroon has attributed up to 51 percent of the Ngoyla-Mintom forests for conservation,” says Basile Yapo, WWF Cameroon Country Director.

First published in The Post print edition no 01392

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