Community-Based Natural Resource Management

Women on a plantain plantation, Mambele, East province, Cameroon. They are members of a WWF-supported association, the Womens Heath and Conservation Society. WWF helps the women find sustainable sources of income and to sell their goods for a fair price.
© © Brent Stirton / Getty Images / WWF


After the Rio Summit in 1992, Cameroon committed to ensure a better participation of local populations in the management of natural resources in order to effectively fight against poverty.

This commitment took a better turn after the adoption of a new forest law in 1994, with the objective to increase the participation of populations in the conservation and management of forest resources and consequently improve their living standards.

For this to be achieved, the concept of community forests was introduced in the 1994 law. In a bid to make it operational, the government put in place an appropriate institutional framework with the help of development partners.

According to this law, communities can acquire a community forest (maximum 5000 ha) and manage it following a Simple Management Plan (SMP). 

Two locals discussing about community forestry.
© CarlsF

Our Approach

Since 2003, WWF has been committed to accompanying local communities in the process of acquiring and managing community forests. Given the link between biodiversity conservation and local development, WWF has concentrated its efforts mainly around protected areas.

For WWF, community forests can constitute an important leverage for local development and biodiversity conservation if the resources and necessary efforts are put together to valorize forest resources and ensure sustainability in their exploitation.


  • Local populations registered in an Association or Common Initiative Group (CIG)
  • The administration (forestry and territorial)
  • Local NGOs
  • Economic operators in timber and non-timber forest products
  • Schools (through environmental education and training institutions


Areas of intervention

  • Ameliorate legal and institutional frameworks for community forests
  • Support local communities to acquire and manage community forests
  • Build and reinforce the capacity of various stakeholders regarding community forests

Major Achievements

  • Assisted 28 communities in the process of obtaining community forests
  • Assisted 43 communities in the drafting/revising of Simple Management Plans (SMP)
  • Created nine business links between community forests and economic operators in the timber sector, with one selling internationally. We also assisted in the organization of RACEWOOD, an international business forum regrouping actors in the timber sector
  • Set up 4 tree nurseries with a capacity of over 11,000 plants
  • Produced and disseminated materials (guide and poster) on the  procedures regarding the attribution and management of community forests
  • Trained 80 ministry representatives and 18 NGOs, and sensitized over 2,000 local people on the procedures regarding the attribution and management of community forests
  • Made grants available to several communities for the purchase of saws and accessories for community forest companies