A landmark partnership formed in 2002 between the government of Cameroon and the World Resources Instituteâ€™s Global Forest Watch (GFW) achieved its first major result with todayâ€™s release of a forest-mapping tool designed to help Cameroon reduce illegal logging and ensure better governance.
YAOUNDE, CAMEROON and WASHINGTON, D.C A landmark partnership formed in 2002 between the government of Cameroon and the World Resources Institute’s Global Forest Watch (GFW) achieved its first major result with today’s release of a forest-mapping tool designed to help Cameroon reduce illegal logging and ensure better governance.
The agreement, the first African remote-sensing and monitoring partnership between a government and an independent group, has produced a report on the state of forest concessions and created maps that help officials from Cameroon’s Ministry of Forests and Fauna (MINFOF) to detect illegal logging throughout the country.
“Widespread illegal logging contributes to the destruction of forests and the loss of badly needed revenues across much of Central Africa,” said BenoÃ®t Mertens, GFW project coordinator in Cameroon. This echoes comments made recently by French President Jacques Chirac, who said European countries will soon be taking the necessary actions so that only timber from legal and sustainable sources enters Europe.
Maps of logging roads created by GFW by interpreting satellite images, combined with accurate information on the legal boundaries of forest titles and protected areas, will now permit the identification of problem areas and prioritize them for potential field audits by the specialized services of the MINFOF. The maps produced under this agreement also provide information on the status of the implementation of Sustainable Forest Management Plans for the forest concessions of Cameroon.
The maps and data can be accessed at www.globalforestwatch.org and are also available in CD-ROM format. WRI’s accompanying print publication, Interactive Forestry Atlas of Cameroon, is also being released today.
“We employ the latest technologies like satellite imagery and GIS, but without the cooperation of the government, of our local partners as well as from the private sector in Cameroon, we would never have been able to acquire the data required for the production of this very important tool,” said Pierre Methot, GFW Central Africa program manager. “We hope this atlas will become an integral part of the decision-making process in the sustainable management of the country’s forest ecosystems.”
GFW staff and partners have initiated training activities in Cameroon so that government officials, the industry and civil society are able not only to properly use the atlas but also to incorporate it into their daily decision-making. Also, GFW has a similar agreement in place in the Republic of Congo and aims at producing similar map-based tools throughout Central Africa over the next several years.
About 76 percent of more than 17 million hectares of Cameroon’s forests ”“ totaling some 22.8 million hectares ”“ have either been logged or are allocated as logging concessions. Less than a fifth of the country’s unprotected forests, mostly in central and eastern Cameroon, remain free from logging. Only about 6 percent or 1.4 million hectares of Cameroon’s forests are protected as national parks or reserves.
Cameroon contains some of Africa’s most biologically diverse and most threatened forests. The region’s tropical forests, covering nearly 200 million hectares, extend from southern Cameroon through five other Central African countries. It is the second-largest contiguous tract of rainforest in the world, after the Amazon Basin.