To further transparency in the forestry sector and battle illegal practices, the Ministry of the Environment and Forests (MINEF) has chosen to develop multiple partnerships, particularly in the area of control and monitoring of the forestry sector. To this end, a cooperation agreement was signed on June 6, 2002, between MINEF and Global Forest Watch (GFW), an initiative of the World Resources Institute (WRI), aiming to support MINEF’s forest monitoring functions. The agreement focuses on utilizing remote sensing (RS) and geographic information systems (GIS) technologies to develop a cartographic and statistical database for users and managers of forest resources of the Republic of Cameroon. This database will serve as a reference tool for MINEF in order to facilitate monitoring for sustainable forest management.
GFW was well positioned to engage in this collaboration as evidenced by its publication in 2000 of a document entitled “An Overview of Logging in Cameroon (Aperçu sur la situation de l’exploitation forestière au Cameroun),” produced in collaboration with nongovernmental organizations, experts, and the governmental authorities of the forest sector.
In 2004, GFW’s interest in Cameroon and its continued presence in this country has been demonstrated in a much more meaningful manner with the production of this Interactive Forestry Atlas of Cameroon. This first version of the interactive atlas is the product of a close collaboration between GFW, forest management authorities, and all the stakeholders seeking sustainable forest management in the country.
The current initiative is unique in that it gathers forestry data and information, presents them in a visual manner, and combines data and information that have heretofore not been connected nor easily accessible. The improvement in quality and accessibility of information pertaining to the forestry sector through the use of modern tools such as RS and GIS may contribute significantly to the improvement of the management and rational, sustainable, and responsible use of forests.
By contributing to this atlas, the Government of Cameroon confirms its commitment to increased transparency and good governance. The Government of Cameroon hopes that the information produced by the partnership with GFW will be made available to the greater public via the Internet websites of the GFW and the current Ministry of Forests and Wildlife (MINFOF). All of the parties involved recognize that this version of the atlas constitutes a first step. Subsequent efforts will be focused on keeping this tool up to date as well as training key practitioners in its use and integration in decision-making processes. These efforts will continue within the MINFOF-GFW collaborative framework.
For all of these efforts and the significant outcomes they have produced, I would like to thank WRI, GFW, and their network of partners, as well as the international donor agencies that have supported this work, in particular the United States Agency for International Development’s Central Africa Regional Program for the Environment program (USAID-CARPE) for their constant support, along with the World Bank, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the European Union (EU), and GTZ (German agency for technical cooperation). On behalf of the Government of Cameroon, I invite these partners to continue their collaboration with the Government of Cameroon concerning the challenge of sustainable management of Cameroon’s forestry resources.
Yaoundé, January 20, 2005
The Minister of Forests and Wildlife