Forestry income management and poverty reduction: empirical findings from Kongo, Cameroon

This article examines different uses of forest-based incomes by local communities in Cameroon. Following, the 1994 forestry legislation, local communities have had the opportunity to derive income from forests in the form of annual fees from logging companies, and through the creation of community forests. Currently, several village communities are benefiting from these financial mechanisms, which should allow them to reduce their chronic poverty and to develop. However, this study – undertaken in the village of Kongo – indicates how these incomes are generally poorly managed and diverted by local elites. This finding runs contrary to the poverty-reduction objective underlying the development of community forests and the allocation of a proportion of forest taxation to local populations. A profound change in direction is required, through instituting democratic local governance.