Cameroon strives to redistribute forest wealth to its people

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BOGOR, Indonesia (17 May, 2011)_A new study provides valuable insights for the international community as it establishes a system for reducing carbon emissions from deforestation and forest degradation to tackle climate change.

In the early 1990s, Cameroon experienced a rapid expansion in its timber industry. This led to a new law to limit the environmental consequences of increased forest exploitation and to guarantee that forest-dependent communities would benefit.

Under the law, part of the tax paid by logging companies for the right to harvest the forests—known as an Area Fee—is intended for local communities.

CIFOR’s research uncovered numerous problems in managing the funds, including embezzlement and waste. Few local councils had investment strategies for the Area Fee, and once the government started redistributing the tax money, basic services that were formerly funded and administered by central ministries, such as health and education, were handed over to local councils to be paid for with the Area Fee.

‘Our results serve as a warning that funding to stem deforestation and forest degradation must also improve the livelihoods of rural people,’ said CIFOR scientist Paolo Omar Cerutti, who led the study with colleagues Samuel Assembe, Guillaume Lescuyer (on secondment to CIFOR from CIRAD) and Luca Tacconi (from Australian National University). ‘There are important lessons here for global initiatives to reduce deforestation and forest degradation, which could see billions of dollars channelled into projects to protect forests in developing countries.’

The study, ‘The challenges of redistributing forest-related monetary benefits: A decade of logging area fees in Cameroon,’ was published in International Forestry Review 12.

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For more information:

The challenges of redistributing forest-related monetary benefits to local governments by Cerutti, P.O.; Lescuyer, G.; Assembe Mvondo, S.; Tacconi, L

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