Promoting Multiple-use Forest Management: Which trade-offs in the timber concessions of Central Africa?

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Despite its inclusion in the forest laws and the support of the international community, Multiple-use Forest Management (MFM) remains poorly implemented in tropical forests. Two specific barriers limit the effectiveness of this approach in the timber concessions of Central Africa. On one hand, formal attempts at MFM are poorly conceived either because they promote forest uses, such as ecological functions or tourism, that have little relevance to direct stakeholders, or because they rely on the legal definition of local users' rights, which is disconnected to customary rules and practices. The article develops an alternative approach for six timber concessions in Cameroon, Gabon and the Democratic Republic of Congo, in which the foremost purpose of MFM is to solve or reduce actual conflicts of uses, notably regarding agriculture, hunting, chainsaw milling and firewood collection. On the other hand, the costs of implementing MFM measures are rarely estimated and assigned to concerned actors. The costs of resolving conflicts of use were evaluated in the same concessions, based on consensual solutions elaborated by the logging companies, the forestry and agriculture administrations and the local people. In half of these concessions, the cost of MFM equals or exceeds 1.5 million dollars in the next fifteen years. Several trade-offs are possible between these stakeholders, combining tax relief, technical and financial support to local development, and reduction of some illegal practices.

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