International Nongovernmental Organization (NGO), Greenpeace has once again gone on a collision course with the Cameroon government over the government’s plan to allocate 400,000 hectares of virgin forests to logging companies in the East and Centre regions of Cameroon.
The government says companies that could not exploit concessions that were allocated to them in the English-speaking regions because of the ongoing war of independence will benefit from the new concessions.
And so, on December 16, 2021, the Minister of Forestry and Wildlife, Jules Doret Ndongo launched a call for tenders for the allocation of five forest concessions representing approximately 400,000 ha of forest in the Eastern and Central regions.
These include four Forest Management Units (FMUs) in the Eastern region and one in the Central region.
He said four Forest Management Units are open only to “companies with FMUs in the North-West and South-West regions”, a measure taken by the government to make up for the losses suffered by loggers operating in these regions due to the unstable security situation in recent years.
But Greenpeace, along with its partners, Green Development Advocates (GDA) and Support Services for Local Development Initiatives, SAILD see this as one more threat to Cameroon’s biodiversity.
Ranece Jovial Ndjeudja, Forest Campaigner at Greenpeace Africa said in a statement that “MINFOF’s decision to allocate this area of the forest using the crisis in the North West and South West as an argument seems contradictory and paradoxical. Moreover, the allocation of these forests poses many threats to the communities that live in and depend on them and to biodiversity.
“Earlier this month, a dozen inhabitants of the villages of Bonamangolo, Bindjen 1, Ndokati, Heroun, Boumkwa, Bekong, Timte, Bolam, Bewang, and Ndoktamba were arrested and detained for protesting the allocation of FMU 07-003b last December. The Nkam FMU was one of two concessions offered by the Ministry of Forestry to the highest bidder in August 2021. The other is located in the middle of the North West and South West crisis zone in the Donga-Mantung Division and covers 45,794 ha.”
For the coordinator of Green Development Advocates (GDA), Aristide Chacgom, “it is foolish to continue to exploit the forest in the name of development when we know that these activities only benefit a very small circle of people. The forest is not an unlimited resource. It will eventually disappear if it is not protected. These so-called development projects have not really helped to improve the living conditions of Cameroonians as a whole, on the contrary, they contribute to the deterioration of the living conditions of indigenous and local communities, whose survival still depends on the forest.”
He said Cameroon’s internal forest management policies are at variance with international agreements to which Cameroon is a signatory.
“The government’s forestry policy poses a real danger to the safeguarding of the way of life of local communities and the preservation of biodiversity. It violates all of Cameroon’s international commitments in this area. The solution to development does not lie in the destruction of the forest. Cameroon can develop without destroying itself”, said Ghislain Fomou of the SAILD.
Greenpeace and its partners are now calling on the government to cancel the logging concessions. The call comes as Cameroon joined the global community to celebrate International Day of Forests last Monday, March 21st.
This year’s event was celebrated under the theme ‘Forests and Sustainable Production and Consumption.