A report of the strategic seminar of the EC forest platform

Excerpt from "Illegal forest exploitation and the role of civil society" (2004): "...Patrice Bigombe presented a paper on the impact of illegal forest exploitation on both the local and indigenous population. He started by defining the concept of local and indigenous population in the present context of forest exploitation. He reiterated that generally forest exploitation fails to integrate social considerations as to benefit the local and indigenous population. Taking the example of the pygmies in the forest region of center south and east
provinces (of Cameroon), forest exploitation deprives these people of their lively hood. In most cases the local population enters into conflict with the exploiter over access to the forest resources. He further remarked that the annual forest fees paid by exploiters to the State, the supposed 10% to be used by the communities around the forest concession is scarcely made available to them. The money is managed by the Mayor and there is a lack of any efficient accountability mechanism. He therefore suggested that for any meaningful benefit to the local community who are deprived of their livelihood, the money should be put in a special account controlled by them. This he believed will have a very positive impact than what presently is obtained. He mentioned also the role village elites play in exploiting with impunity the forest to the disadvantage of the local population. He remarked that the increasing involvement of the elites especially through community forest is viewed as an opportunity to enrich themselves. However ten years after Cameroon adopted its new Forest Law, little has changed at the level of those timber producing
communities. He gave the example of Lomie and Mindourou; two communities in the east province. To redress this problem, participants called for intense lobbying and advocacy both within the EU and the USA..."

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