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1999-2000 Allocation of Logging Permits in Cameroon

Fine-tuning Central Africa's First Auction System

Cameroon's forestry legislation is implemented by the allocation of ventes de coupe, Unités Forestières d'Aménagement (UFA) and community forests. This paper presents information on how different logging rights were allocated and to whom.

Executive Summary

Forest sector planning and management policies can help ensure long-term yields of timber products while minimizing the environmental and social costs of logging and other development. However, in many countries the lack of transparency and accountability in the forest sector often prevents their application.

For instance, until 1997, logging concessions in Cameroon were allocated on a discretionary basis that did not ensure either adequate rent capture by the government or logging companies’ technical and financial means to carry out their operations. The lack of these elements resulted in substantial loss of revenue for the government and unnecessary environmental damage.

When Cameroon introduced groundbreaking forestry legislation reform in 1994, followed by an implementation decree in 1995, it became the first country in Central Africa to plan concession allocation through open competitive bidding. The first round took place in 1997, but reported irregularities have hampered the forestry sector ever since. In an effort to increase transparency, an independent observer was appointed by the Government following a transparent selection process to monitor future allocations.

Five types of permits grant logging rights in Cameroon. Exploitation permits and Autorisation de récupération are short-term volume-based logging titles reserved for nationals. Ventes de coupe are 2,500-hectare permits allocated for 1-3 years. Concessions (subdivided in Unités Forestières d’Aménagement) are large long-term titles. Licenses are medium-size to large logging titles, but they are no longer allocated or renewed. Some licenses, predating the new forestry code, are still valid but will expire soon.

Further, Cameroon is the first Central African country to introduce community forests. Community forests are forest blocks of up to 5,000 hectares whose management is entrusted to local communities, with benefits accruing to them.

Cameroon's new forestry legislation is now being implemented by the recent allocation of new ventes de coupe, Unités Forestières d'Aménagement (UFA) and community forests. This document presents information on how these different logging rights were allocated in recent months and to whom. It is concurrent with the Global Forest Watch Cameroon mandate to make such information widely available to national and international audiences. Our assumption is that by promoting transparency and accountability in the forest sector, we can help ensure that Cameroon’s forest resources are managed in the public interest.

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