Forest is the number one carbon sink on earth, which helps to remove carbon dioxide, one of the greenhouse gases responsible for global warming, from the atmosphere. Despite its importance in preventing global warming and climate change, the rate of deforestation around the world has doubled in recent years.
Cameroon is a sub-Saharan African country. Located in the central African sub-region. It is part of the Congo basin forest that makes up 60% of the total land area in six countries: Cameroon, Central African Republic (CAR), Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, the Republic of Congo (Congo — Brazzaville), and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
In Cameroon, about 70% of the population makes their living from natural resources. The forest sector contributes 6–10 % to gross domestic product (GDP) and the Climatic Change value of forest products (logs, sawn wood, plywood, veneers, parquets) run into millions of dollars annually. The sector alone employs up to 13,000 people and many more within the informal sector are involved in the domestic timber trade, charcoal, and even NTFPs.
According to Cameroon’s National Adaptation Plan, Reducing the vulnerability of forests to climate change is one of the major priorities. That is: inventories, management, and conservation of forest blocks, reconstitution of forest cover, especially in sensitive areas (head springs, banks, etc.); village agroforestry; valuation of vegetable waste; development of in situ transformations; conservation of biodiversity; management trafficking and poaching; bush fire management
Despite Cameroon being a signatory to the protection of forests in the just ended COP26 IN Glasgow on the protection and preservation of the forest, not much has been done by the government to align with the terms. Reports from the European Union show that forest exploitation in Cameroon has doubled in recent years. According to their report, the surface area of forest lost annually in Cameroon is 3 times the total surface area of Yaoundé(183km square times 3) which is the capital of Cameroon.
As of date, the government of Cameroon has authorized the forest concession in the Nkam Littoral region which is about 11396 hectares, and that of Donga-Mantung in the Northwest which is 45794 hectares. Despite that, they are still some calls for 5 forest concessions in the East and center region which make up 387954hectar in total.
According to the government, the concession of these forests is to densify forest exploitation activities in the country and to foster development in the concerned territories. It is also said that the new call for the concession is to compensate for the losses incurred by companies and individuals in forest exploitation that incurred losses due to the ongoing sociopolitical conflict in the northwest and southwest regions of the country.
The reality is that forest exploitation has never been a source of development for indigenous people as the only specific circle of people benefit from forest exploitation. Instead, indigenous people lost a lot as they depend more on the forest for their resources. The uncontrolled exploitation of these forests will be a problem and will give rise to social ills.
Indigenous people are more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change since they mostly depend on nature for their source of livelihood. In developing countries, especially Cameroon, agriculture is the rural population’s main livelihood source.
Over 80% of the population relies on agricultural and forest products such as gathering of non-timber forest products (NTFPs), farming, hunting, and animal husbandry for their development which is crucial for poverty alleviation and national development. If we continue to exploit our forest, we will not only harm indigenous people that depend on it for their livelihood but also accelerate the impacts of climate change.