FERN: Rescuing Cameroon’s Ebo forest could provide testing ground for local land use solutions – 10th June 2020

With one of the highest deforestation rates in the Congo Basin, Cameroon’s forest cover (18.8 million hectares, about 40 per cent of the total land area) has declined significantly over the past 25 years. Reinforcing the accelerating trend of converting forests for large-scale agriculture, logging, mining and infrastructure, Cameroon’s government is now threatening one of its last intact forests, a biodiversity hotspot the size of London.

 

Ebo forest is at risk, despite being home to more than 40 communities and holding about 35 million tonnes of carbon. In February 2020, Cameroon’s government started the classification process for two long-term logging concessions – a radical change of plan from the national park the government proposed to create there in 2006. In so doing, the government appears to undercut the years-long process of clarifying communities’ legal status.

 

But a solution could be at hand. In a letter to the Cameroonian Prime Minister more than 60 scientists and conservationists ask the government to suspend its plans and propose to engage all stakeholders, including local communities in developing an inclusive multisectoral land-use plan. This, they argue, would draw assistance and funding from technical and financial partners. Their plan would strengthen the National Investment Plan for sustainable land-use being drafted for discussion with the Central African Forest Initiative (CAFI).

 

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