The concept of community forestry was first developed by the FAO in 1978 and defined as any situation which intimately involves local people in a forestry activity. The initiative strives for social equity while seeking to ensure the durability of forest resources; it aims to empower communities to take the lead in sustainable economic activities in order to reduce poverty, improve living conditions and ensure sustainable local development. In Cameroon, the concept was first brought in as part of the country’s new forest policy of 1992, whose two main objectives were “to protect the environment and preserve natural resources” and “to involve [local] peoples in the conservation and management of forest resources with an aim to improve their living standards”.
The overall aim of this note is to gather perceptions held by local and indigenous communities currently managing, or setting up, community forests in Cameroon. The note aims to highlight issues regarding the process of establishing community forests and how much control communities have in the forests’ management and governance. Recommendations, as proposed by said communities, are also presented. More specific aims include:
− To provide a situational analysis of the FC process (the creation phase, exploitation, investment, etc.) in order to identify the positive aspects and the constraints as seen by forest peoples;
− To compile a list of recommendations based on forest peoples’ wishes, reflecting the role they would like CFs to play for them;
− To make their voices heard by policy-makers and other development partners in future advocacy work.