A rise in Chinese companies operating in Cameroon’s timber sector, combined with weak law enforcement, have fuelled a surge in illegal logging that is fast depleting the nation’s forests, experts warn. But the government is hoping a new association it has set up for Chinese firms exploiting forests will strengthen links with officials and enable those companies to work within the law.
Every night, trucks laden with logs negotiate hundreds of kilometres of bumpy earth roads, headed to the port in Douala, Cameroon’s commercial capital, where the wood – some of it logged illegally – is shipped to foreign markets.
“We have observed a surge in timber trade activities with the increased presence of Chinese business operators in the sector,” said Bernard Njonga, coordinator of Cameroon-based NGO Support Service for Local Development Initiatives (SAILD). “The illegal forest exploitation and logging business has been compounded by weak laws applied to some groups of persons and not others,” he added.