Relief as Cameroon cancels logging plans of Ebo forest – theafricareport

I have been following with keen interest the ongoing debate on Ebo Forest.

 

It represents the struggle of a country trying to balance developmental aspirations with ecological and cultural identity.

 

On one hand, there is a real need to use Cameroon’s natural resources as a path towards prosperity, which has seen the country sign agreements to exploit its most abundant resource, timber.

On the other hand, the threat deforestation poses to biodiversity and climate change forces a pause; just how much of our forest cover can we hand over to logging without also sacrificing the country’s and the continent’s resilience? In what ways are we compromising the well-being of our people by signing away ancestral homes and severing links to repositories of their cultures, histories and identities?

 

Sacred link to nature

I grew up in rural Cameroon in an age when my community’s link to the natural world was sacred. It was our source of identity. Everyone understood that the fate of the community was intertwined with the fate of the forest its wildlife. Like most communities in Africa, we had totem animals, with whom we had a close kinship relationship. The connections to these animals were spiritual. It was taboo to hunt or eat them, they were viewed to be of similar status to people.

 

READ MORE In Mozambique, protecting nature helps people survive

This is the same spiritual connection that the Indigenous Banen community has with Ebo Forest. For this community, allowing loggers to come into the forest would not only mean the loss of a habitat on which they depend for food, water and medicines, it would also mean the loss of a spiritual and intimate connection to the forest, including ancestral burial grounds and a repository of their history and identity.

 

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