Friday, May 1, 2009

Ministry of Fauna

I wrote this waiting for a guy working for the German cooperation agency GTZ at the Ministry of Forestry and Fauna in Yaoundé, Cameroon, last week. Our friend is actually based in the Ministry per se which itself is housed in a big government office tower. I went up to the 7th floor with 7-8 other folks in the elevator and a guy pressing on the corresponding buttons in the elevator. I am not good at descriptions, so I am not sure that you will be able to visualize the picture, but basically the whole thing looks a bit old and shabby. Stained carpet, old office furniture, some folks sitting in the hallways here and there. A number of offices with closed doors. The office of the guy I am to meet with is under renovation, so there is a nice strident noise less than 10 feet (3 meters) away from me… I forgot to mention that the building entrance is all marble – tower must have been built in the 70s and must have looked quite nice for a while.

I did not get the full picture of what happens in the forestry and fauna sectors in Cameroon, so I won’t claim to say anything thorough and even exactly accurate. One quick thing right away: it is interesting (and not uncommon) to see forestry and fauna under the same ministry’s umbrella. Sustainable forestry is a growing trend but standard practices in forestry still dominate the landscape and are not particularly good for the fauna or flora… But considering the glass half-full, there seem to be signs of hope in the forestry sector as several major operators are moving towards certification under the pressure of demand in their countries (largely in Europe) and small-sized operators may be able to carve a niche, operate sustainably, and make some money.

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