Training, Coordination, and Collaboration: Helping Central African Countries Fight Illegal Logging

Timber waiting for export at the port in Douala, Cameroon. Photo courtesy of Richard Paton, USFS-IP

Around the world, illegal logging is a leading cause of deforestation. Central African forests are particularly exploited because of weak governance. Countries are losing their exotic species and old growth trees, and both humans and biodiversity are suffering. In the Central African region, an estimated 1.6 billion people live in or depend on these forests, and unregulated logging can directly threaten their livelihoods and communities.

To help countries better combat illegal logging, the U.S. Forest Service is collaborating with the U.S. Department of Justice to facilitate a series of regional trainings on investigating, developing, and prosecuting illegal logging cases. The most recent training was in Douala, Cameroon, where 30 participants from different government agencies and civil society groups working in forest management, enforcement, customs, and the criminal justice system gathered to role play interagency coordination and share best practices. They discussed international and Cameroonian timber-related laws, field investigation techniques, wood identification training, technology, data, web-based resources, UN Timber Investigation Guidelines, and planning and investigation strategies. The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs supported the training.

The International Police Organization (INTERPOL) estimates that 15% to 30% of all globally traded wood has been illegally harvested.

Illegal logging and trade are complex issues, requiring high levels of coordination and communication across different government agencies. The U.S. Forest Service is committed to promoting a legal and sustainable timber trade in Central Africa by improving agency coordination and access to resources.

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