I would like to start by welcoming you heartily to this exchange forum which will definitely through some light on the gazetting of the Ebo forest area, in the Nkam and Sanaga Maritime Divisions of the Littoral Region. From the onset, I am aware that everything has been said on this issue, for better or for worse.
As bad information very often eclipses the good during this social media era, the Minister of Forestry and Wildlife has the duty to inform the national and international press of what they need to understand this issue which, in normal times, should be an ordinary operation within my Ministry. Of course, out of the 22.5 million hectares of forest that Cameroon has, 13 million hectares are gazetted. There are 103 Forest Management Units in Cameroon, 68 of which are operational. They have been managed so far without any hitches.
The Prime Minister, Head of Government, by Decree N°2020/3216 of 14 July 2020, authorised the gazetting of a 68,385 hectare portion of the State's Private Estate as a Forest Management Unit known as FMU 07 006. This decision puts a final stop to the debate on this issue which has generated a vast misinformation campaign.
The gazetting of a forest, you must know, is done exclusively in the interest of the State. It outlines the procedure by which a forest belonging to the non-permanent forest estate or belonging to a private individual, or part thereof, is incorporated into the permanent forest estate. The State thus assigns the forest to a specific purpose (creation of a Protected Area or exploitation). It may also 3 be assigned to an entity (case of a Council forest). It is therefore a regulatory act enshrined in the texts in force in Cameroon.
So what is the cause of the problem with the Ebo forest area?
The gazetting process of the Ebo Forest as a National Park started with the signing of the Public Notice N°0219/AP/MINFOF/SG/DFAP of May 3, 2006 declaring part of the Ebo Forest an area of public utility, and was completed in 2012.
At the time, the factors that had motivated the gazetting of this 141,706 hectare area were related to the richness of its biodiversity in terms of both flora and fauna.
MINFOF was unable to achieve the desired outcome due to lack of support from a greater majority of the population for the Park's creation project, despite massive awareness campaigns carried out in the field with the support of active conservation partners. WWF and WCS are conducting research activities on certain emblematic species such as elephants, the cross river gorilla and chimpanzees in that area.
The warranty as well as the expectations demanded by these populations did not match required standards in this area. This is what contributed to the process being delayed, despite several attempts to re-engage discussions, all of which proved unsuccessful.
Indeed, the gazetting process of the Ebo National Park had sparked off passions and divisions among the actors on ground (Councils, communities) between supporters and opponents of the project. 4
Today, we can see that these divisions have not mended as evidenced by the rumours that continue to be generated by this issue.
For some, the National Park could guarantee substantial income thanks to the development of ecotourism, while for others, the priority was rather to open up the area as a factor that could encourage the resettlement of populations displaced during the gloomy days of the maquis that preceded independence. For the latter, the creation of FMUs in the area represented an opportunity to boost local development, open up the area and create jobs for young people, in an area which remains one of the most interior in the country. It is this second category of actors that, thanks to the support of the traditional authorities, has taken the upper hand over the rest of the population.
For more information download the official press release of the Cameroon Ministry of Forests and Wildlife (MINFOF) on EBO FOREST:
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