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Specified risks related to 21 sub-categories
Full Timber Legally Risk Assessment ENList of Applicable Legislation EN-FRRisk Mitigation Guide ENDocument Guide EN-FRAnalyse Risque Légalité FRGuide Actions Atténuation FR
Outline of forest resources in Cameroon
Cameroon is an important biodiversity reserve hosting many endemic species of flora and fauna (Doumenge, C. et al., 2015). Cameroon's forests cover a significant portion of the Congo Basin. Their surface area amounts to about 20 million hectares, or 42% of the national territory (FAO, 2020). They consist of dense rainforests in which logging is practiced, and mangroves that are little or not exploited (FRMI, 2018). Dense forests can be divided into two main groups: (1) the Biafran forests, lowland coastal forests along the Gulf of Guinea and (2) the Guinean-Congolian forests in the south and southeast of the country (ETTF, 2016).
Cameroon has one of the highest rates of forest cover degradation in the Congo Basin, and its forest cover decreased by about 1% per year between 1990 and 2015 (FAO, 2015). The very high agricultural pressure contributes largely to deforestation. This is compounded by fuelwood collection, mining and illegal logging (ETTF, 2016).
Organisation of the forest estate
The forest policy, codified by law n°94/01 of 20 January 1994, divides the national forest estate into two distinct domains:
Timber harvesting can come from various types of permits and authorisations. Community forests and privately planted forests are also part of the non-permanent forest domain. The number of community forests has increased significantly since the 2000s. They reached an area of 2.1 million hectares in 2018 (WRI, MINFOF, 2018). The government also promotes the development of private plantations. However, this sector remains limited, with low annual production and a plantation area of around 17,000 hectares for the whole country (FAO, 2020).
According to estimates, the forestry sector contributes between 3% and 5% of Cameroon's GDP (e.g. see CIFOR, 2013). Cameroon's forest industry produces between 2 and 3 million cubic meter of logs annually (ETTF, 2016, FAO/CIFOR, 2015). About a third of this production is exported directly as logs (CED, 2019), and the vast majority of the wood undergoes primary processing before export (mainly into sawn timber and to a lesser extent veneer and plywood) (ETTF, 2016). Today, Cameroon’s legal timber production has reached approximately 3 million m3. As a result, Cameroon has become the leading exporter of timber products in Africa.
The timber trade involves a small number of species: the main species exported are Ayous, Sapelli, Tali, Okan and Azobé (ETTF, 2016, CED, 2019). The Asian market is the main recipient of timber exports, with China and then Vietnam accounting for around 54% of volumes, ahead of the European trio of Belgium, Italy and France (around 22%) (ETTF, 2016).
The Forestry Code in force in Cameroon dates back to 1994 (Law n°94/01 of 20 January 1994). It concentrates implementation and control actions under one Ministry: the Ministry of Forests and Fauna (MINFOF). Although Cameroon has taken significant steps to improve forest policy and governance in the country to slow the high rate of deforestation, illegal logging remains a major concern in the country and is frequently documented at different stages of the timber supply chains.
The corruption perception index (Transparency International) remains very low (25/100 in 2020), and transparency in the forestry sector remains a challenge, although Cameroonian laws have attempted to strengthen public access to information (FAO, 2015). Civil society is also heavily involved in detecting cases of illegality through Independent Monitoring (IM) actions, notably under the External Independent Monitoring Standard System (SNOIE). Finally, for several years, Cameroon has been developing a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) with the European Union. This was signed in May 2010. The country implemented the VPA negotiations through an innovative platform bringing together all stakeholders, including ministerial authorities, timber sector unions, NGOs and community-based organisations, members of the national assembly and international organisations. However, the effective implementation of the legality verification system is not yet operational.
The legality risks related to timber are wide-ranging and appear across all categories of law. If you are sourcing timber from Cameroon you should take care to ensure the extensive risks identified are not present in your supply chains, or have been sufficiently mitigated. VIEW LESS
There are several timber source types in Cameroon. Knowing the “source type” that timber originates from is useful, because different source types can be subject to different applicable legislation and have attributes that affect the risk of non-compliance with the legislation.
According to the Uppsala Conflict Data Program there were 4374 conflict related deaths from 2016-2021.
FSC certified area:
0.341 Mha, updated April 1, 2023
Log export ban: on more than 20 species of raw logs.