CIFOR FORESTS NEWS: What if Cameroonian consumers wanted legal timber?
Cameroon - Cameroonians are still not very interested in knowing the origin of the wood they buy, but a growing number of consumers are looking for legal and sustainable products. This is the main conclusion of a recent study I conducted with other scientists from the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and partners, which explores the domestic timber market in Cameroon.
AN UNEXPLORED OPPORTUNITY
There are many organizations currently working on the sustainability and legality of tropical products. Some prefer approaches that promote implementing legal instruments and public policies, such as the Voluntary Partnership Agreements of the European Union’s FLEGT Action Plan. Others opt to work on private sector initiatives supporting sustainable production, such as company commitments to protect forests.
However, the common thread is that all initiatives target timber demands from developed countries. This trend is based on the fallacious assumption that consumers from developing countries make their choices based only on price, and do not care about the legality or sustainability of products.
Scientific literature unfortunately has the same bias. Very few articles have analyzed developing countries’ consumer concerns about legality and sustainability. However, it’s in the developing world that the battle for timber legality and sustainability will take place in the following years.