COMIFAC-FAO: Harmonizing Follow-up Tools for Legally Transiting Timber in Central Africa


Participants at the 2nd meeting of the COMIFAC workgroup on the follow-up of in-transit timber in Central Africa drew up a reference guide on principles and procedures governing the follow up of in-transit timber. The guide proposes a modus operandi for mixed cross-border checkpoints and the Douala one-stop shop which are in charge of controlling the exportation of in-transit timber. It was also proposed that an interconnected database on the movement of in-transit timber be set up. Participants made a progress report on the application of the FLEGT VPA and the institution of a Governance Workgroup within COMIFAC.

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The COMIFAC Workgroup on the follow-up of in-transit timber in Central Africa also known as the “Forestry Governance Workgroup" held its 2nd meeting on 9 and 10 November, 2011 at Hotel Residence la Falaise in Akwa, Douala. The workshop, organised by COMIFAC ES, with the technical and financial support of FAO and the EU, had three objectives: (1) to present results from the works of the above-mentioned consultants, (2) to make a detailed list of any additional suggestions from the Workgroup to complete the work of the consultants and (3) to agree on the project agenda. Participants dwelled on the examination of all issues connected to in-transit timber against a backdrop of the commitments taken by the respective countries of the sub region-involved in the VPA.


Taking part in the meeting were COMIFAC member countries involved in the project, each represented by their respective forest and customs administrators (two per country). Equally attending were members of the COMIFAC Executive Secretariat, representatives of international organisations and institutions (GIZ COMIFAC Support Office, the World Bank, FAO, TRAFFIC, GIZ ProPSFE), private sector representatives (Cameroon Timber Companies Syndicate - GFBC) and CBFP Facilitation.


 The opening ceremony was marked by a welcome address by the Assistant Executive Secretary of COMIFAC, Martin Tadoum, who heartily welcome participants to the meeting. Concerning the results of the first work group meeting held in May 2011, COMIFAC Deputy ES recalled its added value in the following terms:  “afforded us an opportunity to make a detailed examination of all issues linked to in-transit timber with reference to the commitment taken by countries involved in the VPA process… as such, information collected at the end of the conclave contributed to the drafting of terms of reference for the different consultants”.


 He continued by recalling the Expert Group meeting which assembled five consultants recruited by COMIFAC ES for the project. The meeting, which held from 24 to 25 October, 2011, was organized to improve the technical capacities of the consultants.


 He proceeded to emphasize the strategic importance of the Douala talks, especially since they were exclusively devoted to the presentation of consultants’ reports, and called on participants to come up with any technical suggestions or information likely to enable long term consolidation of the expected results.  Before declaring the session open, COMIFAC Assistant ES thanked FAO and the EU FLEGT programme that supports ACP countries for their technical and financial support to the implementation of the project and call on other financial partners to support the extension of the project to other COMIFAC member countries (Gabon, DRC, etc.).


 The next item was a recall of the spirit, the objective, the results, and the extent of implementation of the Project and the expected results of the workshop presented by Roger FOTEU, Coordinator of the FAO/COMIFAC/EU/ACP/FLEGT Project.  The agenda was examined and adopted and the first session ended with a progress report from GIZ COMIFAC Support Bureau on the setting up of a sub-regional forestry governance workgroup within COMIFAC. 

 Participants then listened to (1) the presentation of reports on the study on rules, procedures and institutional provisions in the field with respect to the follow-up of in-transit timber in the countries concerned by the study (2) reports from the International Consultant on traceability who had been charged with proposing tools for the harmonization of the follow-up of in-transit timber for local use and exportation to COMIFAC (Jean Marc Lewis) (3) reports from the IT Expert Consultant in charge of proposing a platform for information exchange between the different stakeholders on cross-border movements of timber within COMIFAC (Alliot Tamouya).  


 After intense and fruitful discussions presided by COMIFAC Assistant ES, Martin Tadoum, and moderated by Roger Foteu, participants were able to agree on suggestions to enhance the work of the different consultants for the development of harmonized tools for following up in-transit timber. The following points were discussed: (1) problems associated with transiting timber within the CEMAC zone and transporting local timber within Cameroon for exportation in Douala (2) Options to be considered for continuous traceability of in-transit timber (3) Description of the chosen option: STBC pertinent features (4) problems related to the issuance of FLEGT authorizations (5) proposal for  the creation of a FLEGT counter at the Douala Port (6) FLEGT authorization issuance procedure (8) an IT tool to link FLEGT  authorization applications with traceability and to the LVS of the country of origin.


 Participants listened to two exposés on current advances in the VPA process in the countries concerned by the project presented by VPA FLEGT contact person and/or member of the APVFLEGT coordinating committee. Cameroon (Mr AKAGOU ZEDONG Henri) - VPA Contact Person for Cameroon; RCA (Mr MAIDOU Hervé) -   VPA Contact Person for RCA.


 After constructive and intense discussions on the concrete results of this second meeting of the “COMIFAC Workgroup in charge of in-transit timber issues in Central Africa”, participants concluded by taking a few weeks’ rendez-vous to meet and validate consultants’ reports, after these will have been enriched, whence they shall be forwarded to the COMIFAC Council of Ministers for adoption.


 Available for download:

 State of Progress of the Setting-up of the COMIFAC Regional Workgroup on Forestry Governance: (Huber THORSTEN, GIZ)

 Presentation of the reports of the study on rules, procedures and institutional dispositions in the field with respect to the follow-up of in-transit timber in the countries concerned by the study:

- Cameroon: Mr MBOCK II Léo-Guy - Second Cameroon Presentation

- RCA: Mr MAIDOU Hervé.

 Presentation of reports on:

- International Consultant on traceability in charge of proposing harmonized tools for following up in-transit timber for local sale and exportation from COMIFAC (Mr. Jean Marc LEWIS)

- An IT Expert in charge of proposing a platform for inter-stakeholder information exchange on cross-border timber movement within COMIFAC. (Mr. Alliot TAMOUYA).

 Present progress on the VPA process in the countries concerned by the study:

- Cameroon: Mr AKAGOU ZEDONG Henri, VPA Contact Person for Cameroon

- RCA: Mr MAIDOU Hervé, VPA Contact Person for RCA


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