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From RRI Coalition in Cameroon: Government declassifies concession area for local communities
In an important win for the efforts of the RRI Coalition in Cameroon, led by Cameroon Ecology (Cam-Eco), the Government has agreed to declassify several areas part of logging concessions, for community use and access in the Southern region of Cameroon.
Since 2009, the RRI Coalition has been working toward government recognition of the rights of communities living in several Unités Forestières d’Aménagement (Forest Management Units) in the Océan Department of Cameroun (Southern Region). These units (09026, 09027, 09028, and 07002) were reserved by the Cameroonian government for logging concessions. In zoning them, however, the authorities did not take into consideration the areas within their boundaries that were also being used by 47 villages, and included settlements, agricultural areas, sacred forests and hunting areas. As a result of this classification, local and indigenous communities were no longer legally able to access parts of the concession that they had used for generations.
The RRI coalition in Cameroon, whose aim is to help decision makers in the Cameroonian Government make better policy decisions regarding land and forest rights of local communities, initiated dialogue with various stakeholders protagonists: the companies concerned, local government officials and community rightholders to develop an advocacy document to present to the government. With the support of the coalition, Cam-Eco also produced participatory maps with local communities to show the gaps and contradictions of the government zoning system, which does not adequately take into account socio-cultural and political realities on the ground.
The government’s decision has achieved the ultimate goal of the Coalition’s initiative to a large extent. A significant portion of the forest areas claimed by local communities that covers within two of the UFAs has now been declassified. The new surface area for these two UFAs is as follows:
1) UFA 09026:
- Former surface area: 49,026 ha
- New surface area: 35,103.3ha
- Area claimed by communities: 17,162,62 ha
- Area gained by communities: 13,922.7ha
2) UFA 09027:
- Former surface area: 15,435 ha
- New surface area: 12,682.5 ha
- Area claimed by communities: 4,250.32 ha
- Area gained by communities: 2,752.5 ha
Cam-Eco and the RRI Coalition will continue their efforts to persuade the government to further declassify disputed areas within the remaining UFAs.
Posted By Madiha Qureshi at 12:58pm on April 19, 2012
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