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The Minister of Forestry and Wildlife brought together, from February 4th to 5th, 2021, by videoconference the main central and decentralised officials of his ministerial department.
The discussions revolved around the theme: “The reform needed at the dawn of the end of the export of timber in the form of logs and the financing of the forest and wildlife sub-sector”.
To better understand the logic of this theme, it should be remembered that the CEMAC Forest Ministers decided on 19 September 2020 to stop log exports by 2022. The forest and wildlife sub-sector, which is the third largest contributor to the State budget, depends on external funding for 70% of its income. It ranks 23rd as a beneficiary of public funding. It is therefore a sector “at a crossroads”, as Jules Doret Ndongo stressed at the start of the works. Rather than turning this forum into a “grievance exhibition fair” in view of this situation, as the Head of Department pointed out, it was necessary to carry out a cold diagnosis and map out the paths for the future. It is now necessary to think about the post-logging period and to capitalise in depth on the opportunities of the sector. Non-timber forest products are an unexplored tax source. The continued development of protected areas will lay the foundations for the tourist industry in the ecotourism sub-component. In the wood processing sub-segment, the Community decision is a step forward which can create more jobs and offer more opportunities to young people. Moreover, the opening of the “wood processing” section at the National School of Water and Forestry of Mbalmayo is envisaged. This orientation will reinforce previous initiatives that were urgently needed to prepare for the further processing of wood. Nearly 3000 wood craftsmen have been trained in wood drying techniques in 05 years.
The sector is not an island. To capitalise on all its opportunities it must open up. Jules Doret Ndongo invited his employees to strengthen this spirit of openness, which will henceforth be one of the criteria for evaluating their performance. With decentralisation, they should become advisors to the regions and decentralised local authorities. There is no shortage of themes. The National Forest Plantation Development Programme must have a local content. This is the case for awareness-raising with a view to adopting the contours of the joint Minfof/Mintp/Minmap decree of 15 December 2020 on the use of legal timber in public procurement. This is a vast sectoral project whose economic dividends will undeniably pay off.
All in all, the completion of these various projects will require relations with other sectors of activity.
These changes, which are being initiated under the banner of the National Development Strategy 2020-2030 (SND30), require a transversal approach.
Specialists in the sub-sector will need a prior appropriation of these fields of expression of sectoral activity to better define their semantic scope and the social, economic and ecological dimensions of what is happening.