How Cameroon’s Stolen Wood Reaches International Markets
Cameroon’s forests support the livelihoods of thousands of people
A Greenpeace Africa (www.Greenpeace.org) investigation into illegal logging operations in Cameroon has uncovered a trail of stolen timber leading to Cameroon’s main log exporter Compagnie de Commerce et de Transport (CCT), and has reportedly prompted a government audit into the activities of CCT and its suppliers. That audit should include the supplier La Socamba, subject of a Greenpeace briefing released today.
The evidence presented in the briefing, La Socamba: How Cameroon’s Stolen Wood Reaches International Markets, demonstrates how CCT, which supplies timber companies worldwide, including in China and Europe, sources timber from La Socamba, a company engaged in illegal and destructive practices, including logging several kilometers outside their legal logging title. This new case complements evidence already presented by Greenpeace in its reports on CCT suppliers.
On 25 May, in response to Greenpeace offer of a right to response, CCT admitted that Cameroon’s Ministry of Forests and Wildlife (MINFOF) had ordered an audit of the activities of CCT and its suppliers to determine which were involved in illegal activities and to trace the resulting timber. 
“Greenpeace Africa takes note of the audit of CCT’s practices – but stresses that this process should be independent and transparent, and that CCT suppliers are properly sanctioned when illegal activities are confirmed”, said Eric Ini, Greenpeace Africa forest campaigner.
In September 2015, Greenpeace published three cases of illegal logging in permits supplying CCT: logging permits exploited by South Forestry Company (SFC), FEEMAM and SOFOCAM. The Minister of Forestry, Ngole Philip Ngwese, has proclaimed the innocence of companies exposed by Greenpeace for their involvement in illegal logging.
Yet, one of the companies investigated by Greenpeace, SFC has been fined by the authorities twice for exactly the kind of practices Greenpeace exposed, and CCT and its suppliers are now apparently subject to an investigation by MINFOF . In addition, the Dutch authorities sanctioned the Dutch importer of CCT timber based on the Greenpeace evidence .
”If Cameroon is serious about ending the illegal timber trade, it must work closely with the EU towards credible implementation of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement and, as a first priority, to re-establish a system of credible Independent Monitoring of Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade in Cameroon”, concluded Ini.
Next to Belgium and the Netherlands, the UK government also regards timber from Cameroon as “high risk” and has recently investigated UK operators trading in Cameroon timber. These actions from the UK government and the sanction from the Dutch Authorities are positive first steps. However, all EU countries must treat timber from Cameroon as high risk, and require stringent due diligence standards from importing companies until the government of Cameroon can prove beyond reasonable doubts that it is properly enforcing the country’s forestry laws and regulations.
While carrying out research for the La Socamba briefing, Greenpeace undertook field investigations in October 2014 and January 2016 to document areas where permits for destructive “cut-and-run” logging, known as “sales of standing volume” (or VCs, from the French ventes de coupe), have been issued to CCT suppliers and recorded testimonies from local residents and authorities, as well as ex-employees.  Greenpeace also discovered timber carrying the permit number VC 09 01 203 – issued to La Socamba-- discarded up to 8km outside the logging title.
Cameroon’s forests support the livelihoods of thousands of people and are amongst the region’s most biologically diverse forests, providing valuable habitat for endangered Western Lowland Gorillas, chimpanzees and forest elephants, amongst other species. Unsustainable and illegal logging in these forests is leading to deforestation, destruction of the ecosystem and diminished resilience to climate change.
The briefing, La Socamba: How Cameroon’s Stolen Wood Reaches Europe’s Markets: http://www.apo.af/L9ZBac
A storymap, with photographs documenting the journey of timber illegally felled by La Socamba: http://www.apo.af/sEzlmZ
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Greenpeace.
Eric Ini, forest campaigner, Greenpeace Africa, +237 655 304 948, firstname.lastname@example.org
Greenpeace International Press Desk, +31 (0)20 718 2470 (available 24 hours), email@example.com
 The Greenpeace report CCT’S Timber Trade from Cameroon to Europe listed CCT’s main 2014 suppliers, providing evidence that several were involved in illegal logging activities. A frequently observed infringement was that of logging outside the boundaries of the VC, then subsequent declaring of this illegal wood as originating from the legal logging title (“laundering the timber”).
 Correspondence between CCT and Greenpeace, May 25, 2016:
A la demande de Greenpeace, le MINFOF a commandité un audit en cours sur les activités de CCT a ses fournisseurs. Le rapport attendu établira la responsabilités des uns et des autres dans des éventuelles activités illégales en meme temps qu'il tracera éventuellement les bois qui en sont issus.
Veuillez agréer l'expression de mes sentiments distingués.
 MINFOF (2016). N°0031/CP/MINFOF/SG/CC. Communiqué de presse. Le Cameroun défendra l’idéal de la gestion durable des forêts tropicales en dépit de l’acharnement injustifié de Greenpeace, March 11, 2016.
 On 23 June 2015 SFC was fined 38.595.237 francs CFA (around 58.800 EUR) for logging beyond the allowed period in VC 09 01 305. On 18 January 2016 the company was fined another 6.499.810 francs CFA (around 9.900 EUR) for out-of-boundary logging in an unspecified VC. Source: MINFOF. Communiqué N° 0064/C/MINFOF/CAB/BNC of 28 April 2016
 The dutch Competent Authorities stated that: “Because of the political situation in the Congo Basin, timber from Cameroon may only be placed on the market if the importer has taken sufficient mitigating measures to make sure the risk that the timber is illegally harvested is negligible”
 “Sales of standing volume” (hereinafter referred to as VCs from the French ventes de coupe). VCs cover an area of maximum 2500 hectares and have a validity of maximum three years (Art. 55, Law N° 94/01). VC logging represents “cut-and-run” logging of a highly destructive nature: typically they are rapidly exploited in a highly destructive manner, as no management plan is legally required. There is frequent fraud and corruption in the allocation of the permits, which is also frequently associated to illegal logging (CONAC, 2012) (Hoare, 2015).
Hoare, A. (2015). Illegal logging and related trade. The response in Cameroon. A Chatham House Assessment. London: Chatham House - The Royal Institute of International Affairs. Retrieved from
République du Cameroun. Présidence de la République. Commission Nationale Anti-Corruption (CONAC). (2012). Rapport sur l’état de la lutte contre la corruption au Cameroun en 2011.