Analogue Forestry and Montane Forest Conservation

The Northwest Region of Cameroon with over 70% of its population engaged in peasant agriculture has over the years experienced severe land and watershed degradation resulting from unsustainable farming practices (shifting cultivation and bush burning), unsustainable timber exploitation, grazing, farm encroachment into montane forests rich in biodiversity and water catchments in search for new and more fertile farmlands. In addition, eucalyptus trees introduced in the early 1900s by German colonial masters for timber and fuel wood has affected water cycles resulting in the drying up of streams. These activities have led to soil degradation, declining crop yields, increasing search for new farmlands, lack of water, conflicts and poverty especially for the rural women. Frantic efforts are currently being made by stakeholders to eradicate eucalyptus trees in the area as a mitigating strategy to reduce water shortages.

Traditional Farming is Characterised by Slash and Burn or Practice of Anchara

To achieve her mission CENDEP investigates and trains forest resource users on sustainable forest resource management techniques. So, in October 2006, CENDEP received training on Analogue Forestry in Zimbabwe. Based on results of its successful implementation in Latin America and in other parts of the world, CENDEP embarked on introducing this conservation concept in Cameroon, starting with the grass field areas of North Western Cameroon, specifically in Bui Division. This began with a feasibility study (read the full report) in December 2006 that led to the elaboration of a proposal for a pilot project on Analogue Forestry in Cameroon. This project was supported by the Netherlands Committee of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, IUCN NL.

The Analogue Forestry Project aims at assisting small scale farmers in seven communities in Bui Division of the North West Region of Cameroon to improve their incomes and food supply while at the same time increasing their capacity to adapt to changes in climate through the adoption of improved farming practices. This consists in promoting permanent reforestation/afforestation within degraded watershed and forest areas to help regulate water flows, provide the communities with access to valuable non-timber forest products, and provide permanent carbon sinks that contribute in climate change mitigation on a global scale. Being a new concept the analogue forestry project had three main objectives namely:

  • To educate and raise awareness on the functions, products and services of traditional forests and the need for sustainable management to ensure that the forest benefits continue from generation to generation, through the practice of Analogue Forestry;
  • To restore and/or expand two degraded and one man-made forest through enrichment planting, sustainable forest management and strengthening of local forest and water management institutions;
  • To improve livelihoods of the local population by diversifying farm and forest based income generating sources through the promotion of analogue forestry, sustainable agriculture such as organic farming, bee keeping and improved pasture management, cultivation of agricultural and forest-based products having economic potentials.

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