Council Forestry Faced with Diffuse and Complex Local Demand: The Experience of the Ngog-Mapubi/Dibang Inter-Council Forest Initiative in Cameroon
The general objective of Cameroon's forest policy is to sustain the economic, ecological and social functions of forests. One of the tools chosen by the government to achieve this goal is council forestry. The council forest refers to the forestry law N° 94/01 of January 20, 1994 and the laws on decentralization (Art 16, law N° 2004/018) which lay down the applicable rules, notably the transfer of forest management power to local entities. The slow implementation of this decentralization process in Cameroon goes hand in hand with the suspicion of the lack of weakness of the capacities of decentralized local authorities. Starting from the hypothesis that presupposes this weakness, the actions conducted within a specific project of capacity building of two local councils are analyzed. This project is entitled “supporting the sustainable management and valorisation of the Ngog-Mapubi-Dibang forest massif”. It aimed at providing support to municipalities and communities for the creation of an inter-communal forest in the Centre region of Cameroon. To do this, the project facilitated the establishment of multi-stakeholders partnership agreements, enabling the identification of a three-block site. A process aiming at converting the selected site into a permanent forest domain has been initiated; local actors have benefited from various training programs. Targeted pilot tourism development actions were carried out on two selected touristic itineraries. But it appears from the evaluation that, although local actors are positively impacted, egocentric behaviors contribute to fragmenting and diffusing the local demand for capacity building that can even be expressed in the opposite direction of sustainable management. Built on the complex and diffuse nature of local demand, new opportunities are still explored, especially those more related to REDD+ which is intended to be more participatory and to bring new socioeconomic incentives to local populations.