cameroon: corporations and biodiversity
Logging, both legal and illegal, is a major threat. Legal logging does not imply sustainability: most concessions granted by the government, for example, do not even have an approved management plan. The majority of logging companies operating in the Congo Basin are European, and most of the timber extracted is exported to Europe, either directly or via China.
Mining is also becoming a serious concern, with an increasing number of mining concessions granted in the forest, even in protected areas. Chinese and Indian corporations are active in the area and often have very low operating standards.
Friends of the Earth Cameroon / Centre for Environment and Development carried out research into the extractive industry’s practices in Cameroon, and disseminated the results widely, calling for an end to unsustainable extractive practices.
They also investigated the laws and regulations concerning logging and mining in the Congo Basin, and published a draft report, which raised many issues including concerns about how concessions are allocated, and about the social and environmental impacts of mining. FoE Cameroon has advanced these issues within the Publish What You Pay NGOs coalition and the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, and through a newly-established national platform which involves government ministries and some of the companies involved in the extractive sector.
FoE Cameroon also launched a campaign on small logging titles, also allocated by the government. They conducted research into the illegal and unsustainable practices of companies operating in these small logging titles, which was published by FoE France, and lobbied the government to stop the allocations.
They also exposed how a concession belonging to an Italian forestry company, Groupe SEFAC, in the east of Cameroon had been wrongly granted certification under the Forest Stewardship Certification (FSC) scheme, which is supposed to guarantee good management. FoE Cameroon’s report exposed shortfalls in the implementation of standards, and led to the certifier being suspended. Elements from the SEFAC report were also used to raise the more general issue of the social aspects of certification, and FoE Cameroon’s position was presented to workshops on the issue organized by the Federation of Logging Companies in September 2008.
FoE Cameroon also set up a civil society monitoring mechanism for the EU’s Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) process in Cameroon, and supported the establishment of such mechanisms in three neighboring countries.
They established an informal network of journalists working in different media who are interested in covering issues related to biodiversity management. They have met with these journalists and helped them visit remote areas.
FoE Cameroon’s work has ensured that issues of unsustainable logging and mining are high on the agendas of government, NGOs and companies.
Two major mining companies operating in Cameroon, Giovic and Sundance, have agreed to use participatory mapping to identify local Indigenous communities’ use of natural resources in and around their concession areas.
Following the publication of FoE Cameroon’s draft report on logging regulations and laws, NGOs in six countries in the Gulf of Guinea also plan to assess the sustainability of logging and mining regulation in their countries, and to run advocacy campaigns.
As a result of FoE Cameroon’s campaign on small logging titles, these allocations have been included in the scope of the FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) between the EU and Cameroon (they were originally excluded from the VPA and from any verification of legality).
Improving the social aspects of certification has become the most important priority of the FSC and companies involved in certification in central Africa, partly as a result of FoE Cameroon’s work on SEFAC and other certificates granted in the region.
FoE Cameroon’s efforts to engage the media have also been extremely effective, resulting in good media coverage, including documentaries on French and Spanish television, and many reports by international news agencies AFP and Reuters.
with thanks to our funders: the dutch ministry of foreign affairs (dgis).