The project stems from the long experience of the African Centre for Applied Forestry Research and Development (CARFAD) in Community Forestry. Indeed, its involvement in several initiatives at the village communities has allowed it to see many blunders related to bad governance in community forests such as: non-compliance with laws and regulatory texts, ignorance of communities on procedures for obtaining certain exploitation documents, the mismanagement of revenues from forests, recurrent conflicts sometimes leading to human deaths, etc.
This is to fight illegal exploitation and timber trade, as well as poverty that was developed in this project entitled “Support to Governance in the community forestry project to combat poverty in Batouri Diocese”, with the technical and financial support of FAO and the European Union through the Support programme on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade for African, Caribbean and Pacific countries (VPA-FLEGT Support Programme).
The project aimed at enabling forest communities to produce and sell legal timber in order to fight against poverty.
The project was executed in Batouri area in Kadey Division, East Region of Cameroon and 26 community forests (CF) were directly involved.
The project was to improve governance within the framework of implementing the Simple Management Plans of the 26 community forests in the Diocese of Batouri.
The specific objectives were as follows:
- Set up a federation regrouping the 26 community forests in the diocese of Batouri;
- Strengthen the capacity of member communities of the federation on the mastery of legal and regulatory texts as required by the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) on revenue management and on the designing/realization of micro-projects for community development;
- Test the FLEGT legality grid on the federation’s community forests under exploitation and if necessary propose its amendments and submit to the national committee of VPA stakeholders.
In addition to CARFAD which is primarily responsible for the project, the following partners were involved: the Network of Community Forestry (RFC), the Diocesan Social Welfare Services (CODASC) of the Diocese of Batouri and the Catholic Relief Services (CRS -Cameroon).
The amount of the financial contribution summed up to $ 107,000.
- The communities are better equipped on the VPA-FLEGT process through the distribution of 2000 flyers, the pasting of 400 posters, the projection of four documentaries on FLEGT and the holding of 27 sensitization meetings; one in Batouri and 26 others, in villages;
- A federation of community forests was put in place, known as “Association of Kadey’s Community Forests” under the acronym ASFOCKA, at the end of a general assembly during which the management staff of the federation was assigned, operational texts written and validated by the participants. The receipt of declaration of the federation was signed by the Senior Divisional Officer of Kadeï. The head office of ASFOCKA is located in Batouri. It is equipped with a laptop, a printer, tables and chairs among others. The website of the federation was created and can be consulted through asfocka.org;
- The capacities of 52 managers of the Community forests were reinforced on: i) mastery of the legislative and regulatory texts which govern Community forests, ii) administrative writing, especially on procedures of obtaining and renewing annual exploitation certificates (CAE), iii) the techniques of developing Community forests; iv) conflicts management; v) management of funds gotten from community forests exploitation; vi) techniques of negotiation partnership contracts and vii) the conception/realization of community development projects;
- Two legislative tests were carried out in the Community forests under exploitation through talks and consultation of documents; that made it possible to have a more precise idea on the functioning of the Community forests and the constraints related to the implementation of the legality grid. These tests thus made it possible to detect among others, the assets, the significant progress and the difficulties related to the application of the legality grid;
- The different activities of the project were made known through audio media (Radio Environment, Batouri Community Radio, Cameroon Radio and Television National Post); visual media (Cameroon Radio and Television, Ariane Television) and press media (Le Jour, Cameroon Tribune). A program was produced in December 2010 and disseminated through radio environment. A second program was produced in December 2011 and disseminated through the same communication channels. Project activities are made known through the website of ASFOCKA and consulted on www.asfocka.org. The activities of the project are finally disseminated through the production of a document regrouping the results of the project.