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Felled tree in the forest at the base of Mount Cameroon © A. Walmsley / TRAFFIC

Felled tree in the forest at the base of Mount Cameroon © A. Walmsley / TRAFFIC

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Published 2nd December 2017

New WCO guidelines to help Cameroon Customs assess the legality of timber trade

Yaoundé, Cameroon, 2nd December 2017—TRAFFIC and the World Customs Organization (WCO) have produced a new guide to help frontline officers verify the legality of timber in trade, which was put through its paces by Cameroon Customs offices this week. 


The timber trade guide provides information on illegal timber flows; how to carry out risk profiling; which harmonised Customs codes to use for timber and timber products (and how to identify them); and legisation around timber trade and forest certification schemes.

Familiarising themselves with the guide was at the heart of a national timber trade workshop held for Cameroon Customs officers in Mbalmayo from 30th November to 1st December 2017.  

Organized by TRAFFIC with financial support from the UK Department for International Development (DFID), the meeting took place under the umbrella of a project on “Reinforcing Chinese government and industry action to reduce illegal timber in supply chains originating from Cameroon”. 

Worldwide the timber trade is estimated to be worth more than USD300 billion a year, but is severely undermined by illegal logging owing to weaknesses in forest policies, inadequate legal frameworks, and a lack of institutional capacity to maintain good forest governance. 

Legislation to promote legal timber trade includes the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and bilateral agreements between the European Union (EU) and sourcing countries, known as Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs), under the EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (VPA-FLEGT). 

“Although appropriate legislation largely exists, illegal logging and associated corruption will continue to persist in countries that lack the necessary political will to address these issues—ensuring Customs officers are fully trained is a vital step in securing a legal timber trade and the economic benefits that brings with it,” said Denis Mahonghol, a Forest Programme Officer with TRAFFIC. 


About DfID

The UK Department for International Development (DFID). Find out more about them here.

About World Customs Organization

The World Customs Organization (WCO), established in 1952 as the Customs Co-operation Council (CCC) is an independent intergovernmental body whose mission is to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of Customs administrations.