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Cameroon: 1,500 Square Metres Of Illegally Exploited Timber Seized In Littoral So Far

Over 1,500 square metres of illegally exploited timber has been seized in the Littoral Region of Cameroon since the beginning of 2020.

In making the announcement during an exchange with the press in Douala August 19, 2020, the Littoral Regional Delegate of Forestry and Wildlife said in spite of the persistence of the criminal activities of unscrupulous forest exploiters, his ministry is doing everything to put an end to the phenomenon.

“For the current 2020 fiscal year, the figures for the first semester indicate that more than 1,500 square metres of timber valued at about 70 million FCFA (about US$140,000) have been seized and sold on auction,” the Regional Delegate, Francis Durand Nna revealed.

These figures are however lower than those for the same period in 2019 during which “about 5,000 square metres of treated timber were seized in the Littoral Region. 

“This quantity on being sold by auction brought in about 100 million FCFA (about US$200,000) into the public treasury,” according to the Forestry and Wildlife official.

In spite of the efforts of the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife in the region, illegal forestry exploitation as well as illegal trade in rare animal species continues to flourish. 

This is partly because rogue officials of the ministry connive with forestry companies and wildlife traffickers to flout the laws.

The proximity of the region to the Douala port which is the main import and export hub in Cameroon also accounts for the high incidence of illegal activities involving forestry and fauna.

Mr. Francis Durand Nna has called on the populations to cooperate in fighting against this plague.

He added that he would want “serenity to return within the local populations of the Ngambe forests in order to permit our administration to pursue its efforts to control the management of these resources”.

The illegal exploitation of national forest reserves is becoming a national pastime that affects all forest zones in the country. 

The Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife has officially been fighting to curtail the extent of the problem but officiously, the whole exercise is encouraged by agents of the ministry.

“Most of the timber seized is always found to have one sort of authorization or the other and in almost 100 per cent of the cases, the documents are always signed by agents of the ministry. 

Only rogue exploiters who refuse to bribe control agents are usually publicly denounced”, an official of a civil society organization fighting against illegal forestry exploitation told HumAngle on condition of anonymity.

“When they announce having seized 1,000 square metres, know that more than 10,000 square metres have been allowed to filter through and the presented seized quantity is only used as window-dressing. 

“The paradox here is that some of these crimes are committed with the connivance of village chiefs whose populations stand to lose most from the theft of their patrimony”, added the same civil society activist.

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Chief Bisong Etahoben

Chief Bisong Etahoben is a Cameroonian investigative journalist and traditional ruler. He writes for international media and has participated in several transnational investigations. Etahoben won the first-ever Cameroon Investigative Journalist Award in 1992. He serves as a member of a number of international investigative journalism professional bodies including the Forum for African Investigative Reporters (FAIR). He is HumAngle's Francophone and Central Africa editor.

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