Last updated: 06 March 2020



Forestry and legality

Region Sub-Saharan Africa (2019) UNSD
FLEGT status VPA implementing (2019) FLEGT Facility
Forest area 18.8 million ha (2015) FAO
Deforestation rate 0.22 million ha/year (2010-2015) FAO
Planted area 0.036 million ha (2015) FAO
Tree cover loss 1.2 million ha (2001-2018) Global Forest Watch
Tree cover loss (%) 3.8 % (2001-2018) Global Forest Watch
Tree cover gain 65.1 kha (2001-2012) Global Forest Watch
FSC certified area 341,708 ha (December 2019) FSC
PEFC certified area 0 ha (December 2019) PEFC
Double certified area (FSC & PEFC) 0 ha (Mid-2019) FSC & PEFC

VPA status of Cameroon

  • Cameroon started VPA negotiations in 2007, signed the agreement in 2010 and ratification followed in 2011. However, the pace of VPA implementation has been slow in recent years.

  • In January 2019 the Joint Annual Report (JAR) for 2017 on the VPA’s development was released.

  • In May 2019, both parties to the VPA agreed to stop implementation of the SIGIF2 software, which was supposed to underpin the Legality Assurance System, and launch a new initiative as a part of the Programme d’amélioration de la gouvernance en milieu forestier (PAMFOR) programme. Revision of the legality definition is also underway.

  • The Ministry of Forest and Wildlife has issued 18 certificates of legality to 16 timber processing unit operators and published a document explaining the system for collating certification documentation.

  • Information about legal compliance with VPA legality requirements by logging companies can now also be accessed online through the Open Timber Portal (OTP) platform.

Forest resources in Cameroon

  • Cameroon’s forests are mainly tropical rainforests of two predominant types: lowland evergreen (54% of total forest area) and lowland semi-deciduous (28%) which are rich in commercial species of Meliaceae such as Entandrophragma cylindricum (sapelli) and E. utile (sipo).

  • Between 2010 and 2015, the annual rate of deforestation in Cameroon remained constant but high (1.02%, 220,000 hectares per year) the same rate as the previous decade.

  • The main direct and indirect causes of deforestation and forest degradation are: the development of agricultural activities – both slash-and-burn subsistence agriculture and cash crops (e.g. cocoa); the illegal exploitation of timber outside the PFE; the exploitation of fuelwood, particularly around major urban centres; and the development of the mining sector (bauxite, cobalt).

  • According to CIFOR, the allocated area in forestry concessions in Cameroon rose from 5.8 million hectares in 2012 to 6.3 million hectares in 2016. During this same period, the number of forest concessions rose from 82 to 91.



Economic and industrial status

GDP 38.5 billion USD (2018) World Bank
Population 25.2 million (2018) World Bank
Income group Lower middle income (2019) World Bank
Ease of Doing Business (EDB) Rank 167 / 190 (2019) World Bank
Global Competitiveness Index Rank 123 / 141 (2019) World Economic Forum
Liner Shipping Connectivity Index 16.3 (maximum value in 2004 = 100) (2019) World Bank

Timber industry competitiveness of Cameroon

  • Drawing on Cameroon government sources, CIFOR notes that Cameroon is host to around 120 authorised and active forest enterprises and 199 timber processing units, the latter divided among the first (71), second (75) and third (53) degree of processing capacity.

  • Although Cameroon probably has the largest timber industry capacity in tropical Africa, the country suffers from low competitiveness across a range of indices which has restricted opportunities to develop exports of processed wood products.

  • Cameroon slipped from 114th to 121st rank in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index between 2015 and 2018. In 2018, Cameroon was ranked 166th on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business index, down from 163rd the previous year.

  • Compared to other exporting countries in Africa, Cameroon is comparatively well connected, ranking 64th on the Connectivity Index. As a result, Cameroon has traditionally played an important role as a hub for exports of timber from neighbouring countries.

  • However, since 2016, exports out of Douala port in Cameroon, the principal transport hub for the wider Congo region, have become extremely erratic due to reliance on old and unreliable equipment, management problems, and silting up of access channels which means that larger, deep-draft vessels can’t dock.

  • Some shippers are exploring the possibility of using the new, Chinese-funded, deep-water port at Kribi in Cameroon, but this also has teething problems.

  • Other problems include the diminishing commercial availability of tropical hardwood species, and delayed payment of VAT refunds by African governments, partly linked to low oil prices, which created severe financial challenges for operators in the region.

Trade Overview

Trade Overview


  • According to the ITTO Biennial Review, Cameroon log production was around 3.6 million m3 in 2018, a rise from 3.1 million m3 three years before. Cameroon log exports increased from 1.15 million m3 in 2015 to 1.4 million m3 in 2017 but fell back to 1.23 million m3 in 2018.

  • Cameroon sawnwood production is estimated to be around 1 million m3 per year, although data quality is low. Only very small volumes of plywood, veneer and other processed products are manufactured and exported from the country.

Cameroon’s imports and exports of timber products in the latest 12 months (USD value from January 2019 to December 2019)

NOTE: Mirror data from STIX, drawing on trade data reported by Cameroon’s main trading partners, is used. Read more about the data in ‘Data Sources and Issues’.
Hover over the chart to see the value.

Imports (110.5 Million USD) Exports (604.23 Million USD)
Region Country Product Product Country Region

Cameroon’s production, imports, exports and domestic consumption of primary wood products in 2018

(data source: ITTO) Hover over the chart to see the value.

Trend in production, imports, exports and domestic consumption of primary wood products (logs, sawnwood, plywood, and veneer) in Cameroon

(data source: ITTO)