TFT is working with the unions of several Cameroonian logging companies to help them understand and clarify legislation for producing and exporting tropical timber
As of January 2019, The Forest Trust has become Earthworm Foundation.
Cameroon is home to around 20 million hectares of the world’s second largest tropical rainforest and is Africa’s largest exporter of tropical hardwood to the EU. The government of Cameroon signed a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) with the Forest Law Enforcement Governance Trade Action Plan (FLEGT) in 2010, and it is within the frame of the VPA that this project has been instigated.
This work is part of a project funded by the EU through the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The overall aim of the project is to produce a ‘manual of procedures’ to aid the transparency and fluidity of operations between logging companies and the ministries involved in the implementation of the VPA-FLEGT legality grids (these are the Ministry of Forestry and wildlife, the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development and the Ministry of Labour and Social Security).
The biggest union, Groupement de la Filière Bois du Cameroun (GFBC), represents around 75% of business volume in the formal sector and around 60% of awarded forest areas. GFBC is the lead organization reporting into the FAO. TFT is the technical partner and initiated the project.
TFT Central Africa Coordinator, Germain Yene, explains the significance of the project: “One of the most important VPA-FLEGT objectives is to reinforce good governance practices in the forestry sector in general. It’s very common for details to be unclear for logging companies when they need documents, approvals or authorizations from concerned administrations. This could constitute a difficulty for the implementation of Cameroon’s Legality Assurance System (LAS). This project will help clarify the “rules of the game” for each stakeholder so that misunderstandings, time wasting and bad practices can be minimised.”
A draft manual of procedures has been developed, and three regional workshops have been held with stakeholders to discuss and gather feedback.
Germain continues: “The discussions between the logging companies and representatives of the ministries were very interesting and sometimes passionate. This is positive as it shows that all stakeholders are now interested. But it also shows there are still some adjustments and clarifications needed for the FLEGT legality matrices to be truly operational with the realities on the ground.”
A final workshop brought together representatives from the ministries, GFBC and TFT to achieve a consensus on the remaining points and discuss the validation process. The next step is for the procedures to be officially validated and endorsed by the ministries.