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Management Conflicts in Cameroonian Community Forests

Driss Ezzine de Blas, Centre International en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement (CIRAD)
Manuel Ruiz-Pérez, Universidad Autonoma de Madrid (UAM)
Cédric Vermeulen, Université de Gembloux

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Abstract

Cameroonian community forests were designed and implemented to meet the general objectives of forest management decentralization for democratic and community management. The spread of management conflicts all over the country has shown that these broad expectations have not been met. We describe conflicts occurring in 20 community forests by types of actors and processes involved. We argue that a number of external (community vs. external actors) and internal (intra-community) conflicts are part of the causes blocking the expected outcome of Cameroonian community forests, fostering bad governance and loss of confidence. Rent appropriation and control of forest resources appear as systemic or generalized conflicts. While community forest support projects have tended to focus on capacity building activities, less direct attention has been given to these systemic problems. We conclude that some factors like appropriate leadership, and spending of logging receipts on collective benefits (direct and indirect) are needed to minimize conflicts. Government and development agencies should concentrate efforts on designing concrete tools for improving financial transparency while privileging communities with credible leaders.

Key words

Cameroon; common pool resources management; community forests; network analysis; social conflicts
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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087