Will the proposed forest policy and regulatory reforms boost the NTFP sector in Cameroon ?
The national policy framework for forest and forest resources management in Cameroon has often been blamed for hindering the development of the non-timber forest products (NTFP) sector. Various actors, both international and national, have gathered to propose major changes to the forestry law in order to support NTFP development. This paper addresses the following questions: (1) What are the provisions of the current forestry policy for NTFPs? (2) What are the major changes proposed for NTFPs and the reality on the ground? (3) How do forest users view the legal forestry framework? (4) Aren't there better ways to improve NTFP management in Cameroon? Informal and formal interviews held with producers, traders, forest administrative agents and civil society actors show that the government tends to address the local communities' participation concerns through decentralisation in the forestry sector but without guaranteeing an efficient implementation. This situation appears to be a structural factor affecting other sectors of activity in the country, and resulting in little hope that the long awaited reforms in the forestry sector will have a determining impact, unless critical actions are taken against corruption and nepotism. The development of a well-structured civil society and the recourse to new technologies appear to be the best way to improve NTFP governance and efficiency in Cameroon