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The timber domestic sector in Cameroon: Preliminary analysis and issues

Lescuyer G., Cerutti P.O., Assembe-Mvondo S., Essiane Mendoula E., Nguiebouri J., Ondoua J.P.. 2009. In : Regional Workshop on Chainsaw Lumbering in West Africa, 25-26 May 2009, Accra, Ghana. s.l. : s.n., 21 p.. Regional Workshop on Chainsaw Lumbering in West Africa, 2009-05-25/2009-05-26, Accra (Ghana).

The domestic timber sector, and the drivers behind its expansions and contractions, have generally been under-researched in the countries of the Congo-Basin. Cameroon, for instance, experienced a steady and substantial growth in timber production during the economic boom, from 1970 to 1986, which was mainly driven by a growing domestic market. Later on, official timber production stagnated during the economic crisis, and then boosted again after the devaluation of the CFA Franc in 1994, but it became too expensive for the local population, and was entirely exportoriented. The gradual improvement of the economic conditions in the last 15 years, and the lack of alternative sources of income, pushed many Cameroonians to become small-scale loggers and source hundreds of local markets, as well as to develop flourishing timber exporting networks on routes reaching as far as the countries of Northern Africa. Notwithstanding its importance for national economies, the domestic timber sector is neither part of official statistics nor considered by public policies and normative frameworks in the countries of the Congo Basin. In fact, it has kept growing in what is commonly referred to as the informal sector, with most activities taking place without logging titles, and with no formal taxes collected. The provisional results of this research quantify the unprecedented scale of the domestic timber market in Cameroon, with about 1 million m3 of processes timber products sold per year. Morever, we show how the sector generates important revenues, making it one of the most important source of livelihoods for a growing number of people. We argue a formal legal framework is needed to regulate and professionalise the domestic timber market in Cameroon and in other countries of the Congo Basin, in order to streamline forestry operations, improve the governance of the sector, and manage its ecological impacts.

Mots-clés : industrie du bois; cameroun

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