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The Development of Community Forests in Cameroon: Origins, Current Situation and Constraints

Research reports

The introduction of the concept of community forestry into Cameroonís forestry legislation by means of the idea of community forests was a great innovation in the Central African sub-region. Observers in the forestry and broader development sectors alike felt that this represented a revolution in the Cameroonian forest sector. However, seven years after the adoption of the new law of January 1994, the expected level of change does not seem to have been achieved. Only around 10 community forests have been assigned and are now more or less managed by the communities. This paper outlines the origins of this new concept in Cameroon and the strategies developed by the forest administration to put it into practice. It then presents the current situation as regards applications for community forests, analysing their geographic distribution. This is followed by a reflection on the difficulties of implementing the concept of community forests with a particular focus on the difficulties faced by village communities. The key constraints highlighted are socio-cultural (including a very varied understanding of what is meant by ëcommunityí or ëlegal entityí), institutional and financial (relating to the costs of preparing an application file and the management plan necessary for any community forest to be assigned).

AndrÈ Djeumo