Cameroon's Hidden Harvest: Commercial Chainsaw Logging, Corruption, and Livelihoods
This article discusses the extent, impacts, and governance dynamics of illegal logging and associated corruption in the chainsaw milling sector in Cameroon and the implications for natural resource management theory and international initiatives, represented by the European Union's Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan. We show that state officials may be collecting some €6 million in informal payments each year, part of which is siphoned into a pyramidal system that manages careers not by merit, but by the price one can pay. We argue that corruption becomes a root cause of policy failures when disillusioned state officials perceive that those at the top of the pyramid do not have the legitimacy needed to promote reforms. Arbitrariness, mistrust, and contradiction then predominate, thus weakening the rule of law. We derive lessons for interventions addressing corruption and its impacts.