CIFOR- Comparative assessment of forest revenue redistribution mechanisms in Cameroon : Lessons for REDD+ benefit sharing




Cameroon has long established legal mechanisms for the redistribution of forest and wildlife revenues by which economic operations are to pay royalties that are transferred to local forest communities. An analysis of forest and wildlife royalties in Cameroon offers several lessons for the future design and implementation of REDD+ benefit sharing. This paper draws on a legal review and field data to assess the implementation processes and outcomes of forest and wildlife revenues in Cameroon, with an emphasis on the socio-distributional aspects.



Central to this analysis are four types of revenue redistribution mechanisms, created by the government with the aim of enabling local councils and local communities to receive some portion of the forest and wildlife revenues and be involved in forest resource management. The key objective of the revenue redistribution policy is to support poverty reduction and local development. Each of these four revenue sharing mechanisms involves specific governance and institutional arrangements: Annual Forest Fees, Council Forest Revenues, Wildlife Royalties, and Community Forest Revenue. This study focuses on implementation processes and outcomes of these mechanisms in 15 villages in four council areas, namely Yokadouma (Boumba and Ngoko division, East region), and Nieté, Lokoundje and Akom 2 (Ocean division, South region). We conducted 15 focus group discussions and 72 household questionnaires and interviews with key experts and authorities. We assessed these mechanisms using a 3E (effectiveness, efficiency and equity) lens to draw lessons for designing REDD+ benefit sharing.



The findings indicate that the forestry and wildlife revenue redistribution mechanisms in Cameroon do not entirely fulfill the 3E criteria, and that the trade-offs between the effectiveness, efficiency and equity criteria are not always clear or transparent. Specifically, the study results reveal that the institutionalized forest and wildlife revenue sharing models have not adequately achieved the policy objectives of reducing rural poverty and promoting local development. The poor outcomes are illustrated by the low development condition of local communities in all four council areas that are our study sites (effectiveness criterion). There is also evidence that suggests that all the revenue redistribution mechanisms have high transaction costs, which hinders local communities from taking advantage of the presented opportunities (efficiency criterion). Lastly, the procedural and contextual dimensions of social justice underlying all environmental policies are poor (equity criterion), notably for women and marginalized groups such as the Pygmy minority. Despite the well-intentioned objectives behind Cameroon’s forest and wildlife revenue redistribution models, the weak governance prevalent in the country’s sociopolitical institutions at both national and local levels, and poor institutional processes have meant that the models do not manage to adequately achieve their goals.



For the current models of forest and wildlife revenue redistribution to be relevant for REDD+, our assessment highlighted the following shortcomings: (i) the political economy of Cameroon’s forestry sector has colored the design of the revenue sharing mechanisms and exacerbated shortcomings and malpractices of the prevailing system; (ii) the central administration and authorities are highly present throughout the redistribution process and this has overridden the powers devolved to local authorities, and led to recentralization characterized by unstable framework regulations and benefitsharing grids; (iii) the bureaucracy of the current mechanisms has caused high transaction costs for local participants and enabled related rent capture by some forest and political elites; (iv) the current models have contributed to and reinforced the political and socioeconomic marginalization of forest minorities such as Pygmies (Baka and Bagyeli) and women; and (v) local actors have weak capacity for influencing local forest governance. Possible solutions include distributing forest revenues from companies or councils directly to communities, and designing a revenue redistribution system that is based on egalitarian theory – whereby the prevailing understanding is that equal distribution is equitable/ fair – and which minimizes opportunities for corruption and malpractice.



There is potential to address the shortcomings of Cameroon’s current revenue redistribution mechanisms through institutional reform of forest finance committees and financial flows, improvement of governance practices through the establishment of a participative financial monitoring, reporting and verification system, and distributing benefits in a more productive form (i.e. non-cash) that can contribute more effectively to sustained local development. Any future mechanism for benefit sharing within the framework of REDD+ in Cameroon should avoid duplicating or reinforcing the systemic regulatory, procedural and governance flaws inherent in the current forest and wildlife revenue-redistribution models. In this respect, the national REDD+ program could begin to prepare and adopt, in a participatory manner, a series of socio-environmental safeguards based on the principles adopted at the Conference of the Parties in Warsaw and Cancun, and concluded at 2015 Bonn Climate Change conference, and on lessons from the country’s own experience in the sharing of revenues from forest, wildlife, land and related sectors.


A multi-stakeholder approach to identifying the actual and potential risks of a REDD+ benefitsharing mechanism will be critical to the legitimacy of the process. It will also be important to clarify Cameroon’s specific objectives for REDD+, to identify beneficiaries and comparatively assess the pros and cons of particular instruments, institutions, rules, procedures, modes of local community representation, modes of access to information and styles of governance in the design of the benefit sharing mechanism. Finally, the identification of criteria and indicators for the evaluation of safeguards in both forest and wildlife revenue-redistribution mechanisms and REDD+ benefit sharing will be important to ensure socio-environmental sustainability in the long term.



For more Information, please consult the following PDF Documents:


Go back


Ecozona-The Screaming Forest: An Ecocritical Assessment of Le Cri de la forêt

From a postcolonial ecocritical standpoint, this essay analyzes the play Le Cri de la forêt (2015) co-authored by Henri Djombo, a cabinet minister from Congo-Brazzaville, and Osée Colin Koagne, a stage director and environmental activist from Francophone Cameroon. Mindful of the rich biodiversity of the Congo Basin where the playwrights originate, the essay interrogates why the forest in the play is screaming and moves on to engage with related ecological questions such as the scapegoating of witchcraft and doubtful traditional beliefs amidst climate change.

Read more …

FERN: Five EU forest trends to watch out for in 2020 & Save the Date - February 2020 (Brussels)

In 2019, forests and forest peoples’ rights rose up the global political – and spiritual - agenda, and the EU made high profile commitments to protect forests abroad and at home as part of their European Green Deal.  But will 2020 see such commitments turned into action? Here are five questions we hope to give positive answers to at the end of the year...

Read more …

Overview and analyses of key national policies, strategies and action plans relevant to deforestation, child and forced labour, and smallholder inclusion in Cameroon

The overarching objective of this study is to identify laws and policies on deforestation, child labour, force labour and smallholder inclusion in Cameroon, and analyze how these policies support the private sector to align with the sustainable production of timber, palm oil, cocoa and rubber. This review clearly demonstrates that both government and private sector can achieve targets of curbing deforestation and ensuring effective respect of human rights along the supply chains of the selected commodities.

Read more …

Statement on the situation of wildlife in the Congo Basin (and in Cameroon in particular) - Resolving Conservation Conflicts in West/Central African Protected Areas

The statement is the outcome of a meeting of various CBFP partners at the Congo Basin Institute in Yaounde:  ...We are a group of scientists, including faculty members from respected universities in Cameroon and abroad, representatives of protected areas management units, law enforcement organisations (LAGA), rangers, and international organisations (TRAFFIC, WWF). In October 2019, we met in Yaoundé to assess the current status of conservation in the country and discuss ways forward to solve what we consider to be a conservation crisis...

Read more …

Final Communiqué of the Experts’ Meeting to Follow up on the N’Djamena Conference on The Sahel-Congo Basin Roadmap on the Operational Implementation of the N'Djamena Declaration Synthesis

The Kingdom of Belgium Facilitation of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP), in close collaboration with the Central African Forest Commission (COMIFAC) and the Government of the Republic of Cameroon, hosted from 16 to 17 December 2019 in Douala, Cameroon, the Experts’ Meeting for the follow up of the International conference on Security, Poaching, Transhumance Management and the Movements of Armed Groups between the Sahel and Equatorial Africa.

Read more …

CAFI and EU join forces for the future of Central African Forests

Brussels, 4 November:  As part of growing commitments from donors to Central African forests and people, matching growing concern about accelerating forest loss of Earth’s 2nd lung, the  European Commission signed a15 million euros (16 million dollars) funding agreement to the Central African Forest Initiative (CAFI) Trust Fund.

Read more …

CAFI-Central African Forests : 5 Key Takeaways from the UN Secretary General Climate Action Summit

Central African forests' role in the fight against climate change and poverty was made clearer than ever. Their protection is vital to the 60 million people who depend on it, and to the planet’s future.

Read more …

CAFI-Highlights of the 14th Executive Board meeting

CAFI’s latest meeting in Geneva marked by enhanced South-South learning. In a new and much appreciated effort to foster South South exchanges and learning, the 14th CAFI Executive Board meeting was the first time that country-dedicated sessions were open to other countries. The Governments of Gabon, Republic of Congo, DRC, Central African Republic and Equatorial Guinea joined in.

Read more …

CBFP News Archive