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Small-Scale Logging in Community Forests in Cameroon: Towards Ecologically more Sustainable and Socially more Acceptable Compromises

Research report

Research report

Community forestry has now been tested for 5 years in Cameroon. Against all expectations, it is becoming established in forest zones, in spite of the difficulties which village communities face in the long process towards the allocation of a community forest. With access to forest resources decreasing, the smallest forest plot is now a major issue for a whole range of players. The forest economy has to meet many different challenges, the main one being to carry out logging without irremediably destroying the whole resource. Reconciling the social, economic and ecological factors is at the core of the current debate on the sustainable management of forest resources. It seems, increasingly, that the small-scale logging of community forests, along with logging under State management, could represent a serious alternative to the rather conservative solutions found so far (Sale of Standing Volume, salvage logging, etc.), which have been shown to have limitations. The comparative benefits clearly favour the small-scale logging of community forests. This situation has not escaped the attention of a good number of entrepreneurs in the informal sector, who have built up le sciage de long (artisanal sawing with a chain saw) to an almost industrial level. The scarcity of wood resources and the uncontrolled actions that this can provoke, together with the development of illegal logging, is a serious threat to the future of community forestry. Small-scale logging does, however, offer unprecedented possibilities for development, as demonstrated by the enthusiasm of so many of those involved for le sciage de long. Small-scale logging is thus a serious option which must be supported, as must the initiatives of forest communities.

Ph. Auzel, W. Delvingt, R. FetekÈ, G. M. Nguenang