• Complementarity, rivalry and substitution in the governance of forests: Learning from independent forest monitoring system in Cameroon

      Mbzibain, Aurelian; Ongolo, Symphorien (Elsevier BV, 2019-08-06)
      The consequence of state controlled forestry in Cameroon has been the overexploitation of forest resources often in conflict with local forest dependent communities and state conservation objectives. The failure of state controlled forestry to achieve sustainable forest management has led to the emergence of new network like arrangements amongst which is independent forest monitoring (IFM) by civil society. The aim of this paper is to scrutinize the factors which affect the effectiveness of IFM governance network in Cameroon. Our research focused on a case study of Cameroon, employing a governance network perspective. The main findings are that national civil society in Cameroon is playing a significant role in improving transparency in the forest sector and holding decision makers to account. The paper finds a shift from technical areas of forest monitoring to the monitoring of social obligations and the respect of community rights by private companies. An analysis of actors highlights a strong network of national NGOs with self-defined goals and strategies engaged in very fluid relationships with law enforcement agencies beyond traditional ministries of forests and wildlife characterised by a spectrum ranging from complementarity, substitution and rivalry. The lack of sustainable funding and weak capabilities of national NGOs to navigate these fluid relationships emerges as core constraints for network effectiveness. Accordingly, recommendations for effectiveness entail strategies for sustainable funding, capacity strengthening and network coordination to address current weaknesses but also to build trust and credibility of the governance network.