Cameroon bush logging ban expands and villagers act against 'forest robbers’

  • Cameroon Expands Limits on Raw Log Exports, Aiming for Total Ban
  • Nigerian villagers come forward to protect nearby forests from illegal logging.
  • Forests & Finance is Mongabay’s bi-weekly bulletin of news from Africa’s forests.

Cameroon expands export limits on raw log exports

Yaoundé – Cameroon’s Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife (MINFOF) has expanded the list of timber species that cannot be exported as raw logs from the Central African country. Along with other Congo Basin countries, Cameroon is moving towards a complete ban on the export of untreated timber, which is now expected to take effect in January 2026.

In 2018, the ministry banned the export of raw timber of 31 species. MINFOF’s June directive lists 45 additional species, including the commercially valuable mobi (Bailonella toxisperma) and okoume (Aucoumea klaineana), which must now be processed within Cameroon before export to markets in the EU or Asia. The list will expand again in 2025, the ministry says, closing the door on log exports in all but seven tree species.

Carrying raw logs near Malembe in the eastern part of Cameroon. Filmed by Leogadia Pangpen for Mongabay.

A complete ban on raw timber exports, originally planned for January 2022, was introduced to stimulate the growth of domestic timber processing and retain a greater share of the value of timber exports. Cameroon and its neighbors have repeatedly postponed adopting the ban. Their domestic timber industries are not yet ready to process timber at the required scale.

Andre Bekolo Nka, who leads MINFOF’s work in the Boumba and Ngoko Division of the Eastern Region of Cameroon, told Mongabay that the main species currently exploited in the forest include Paduk (Pterocarpus soyauxii), which is widely used for construction, and Sabelli (Entandrophragma). It is valued for its quality wood and the edible caterpillar that can eat it.

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Nka told Mongabay that since the early 2000s, every company licensed to harvest trees in his division has a processing plant, and 70% of legally cut trees in Boumba and Ngoko are processed locally. About 30% of the trees in this section are targeted for export, with a significant amount of trees targeted here recently, such as the durable thali (Erythrophleum suaveolens) and ayous (Triplochiton scleroxylon). „With an immediate end to the export of raw timber, awareness is being created and sawn timber, in this case Ayas, is being piled at the site,” he said.

Nka said banning the export of raw logs should be accompanied by a revised policy to encourage loggers to increase and recover wood for local consumption that is currently discarded.

„A total ban on the export of logs should call for a paradigm shift in the management of our forests. We should no longer limit ourselves to harvesting logs, but recover large branches that can be processed,” he told Mongabay.

Milled timber near Affie River Forest Reserve.  Image by Orji Sunday.
Milled wood near Afi River Forest Reserve, Cross River State, Nigeria. Image for Mongabe by Orji Sunday.

Nigerian villagers take steps to regulate nearby forests

Residents of Olom and Buanjore, two villages in the rainforests of Cross River State, Nigeria, have enacted local laws to protect the forests and biodiversity around their homes from illegal logging.

„Today, those communities are intolerant of logging,” said Peter Oru-Beet, executive director of the Biakwan Light Green Initiative (BLGI), an environmental group based in the state capital, Calabar.

With the support of BLGI, Oru-Bete said community leaders and residents played an active role in designing the bylaws and forest policing system. General assemblies in each community approved laws before registering them with the regular court and local government council, making them legally binding on locals and outsiders.

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He described illegal loggers in Cross River as „forest bandits”, taking advantage of weak law enforcement to commit environmental crimes.

Oru-Bete told Mongabay that illegal logging in the state is financed by Chinese businessmen from elsewhere and represented by local middlemen, primarily from the northern part of the country, who pay local people to find and cut valuable trees.
„Outsiders provide funds and vehicles to facilitate illegal logging,” he said.

Oru-Bete reported that the State Forestry Commission is formally responsible for forest management but has largely failed in its mandate due to lack of capacity and corrupt officials. He said illegal logging activities often increase due to government agencies and wrong policies.

Along with the development of local laws to regulate forest management, BLGI has trained women and youth from Olom and Buanjore to grow nurseries and plant indigenous trees, providing alternative sources of income to logging.

„Community-based forest management activities allow community people to add value to what they have, to manage and prepare for sustainability,” said Oru-Bete.

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Abdulkarim Mojeed and Leogadia Bongpen contributed to this bulletin.

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Community Forestry, Community Conservation, Conservation, Deforestation, Drivers of Deforestation, Environment, Forests, Logging, Timber, Timber Trade, Trade, Tropical Deforestation, Tropical Forests

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