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Profiling Local-Level Outcomes of Environmental Decentralizations

The Case of Cameroon’s Forests in the Congo Basin

This article explores and profiles the local-level outcomes of Cameroon's decentralization of forest management.

Executive Summary

Since the mid-1990s, Cameroon has launched a process of decentralization of the management of its forests. Among other innovations, this decentralization process has transferred powers over forests and financial benefits accruing from their exploitation to local communities. This article explores and profiles its local-level outcomes. It shows that the experiment has not yet brought up expected positive results and very often generates internal conflicts, a new social stratification and the maginalization of traditional authorities. Second, the article argues that decentralized management is not producing positive economic results, as there is no significant economic change in the case study villages. Third, it demonstrates that the experiment is leading to negative environmental results, such as the degradation of many community forests in forested Cameroon. The author recommends that policy makers, researchers, nongovernmental organizations, and the local communities design a monitoring framework for decentralized management.

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