MLA

Multidisciplinary Lanscape Assessment

 

Some results and experiences

CAMEROON

The scoring exercises with the Pebble Distribution Method showed how local communities score the importance of forests compared with other land types, in general (OA) and for specific uses (see explanation of codes below the table). This a summary of scores from men and women, young and old. Forest scores highest in all value categories except for "Marketable Items" and "Recreation".

 

FO

ME

LC

HC

TO

FW

BAC

OR

MI

HP

RE

FT

OA

Village

7.3

12.5

9.0

13.0

8.3

3.8

0.0

14.5

11.0

6.3

18.8

17.8

10.2

Abandoned houses

3.5

9.5

4.0

2.7

2.5

7.0

0.0

4.5

6.3

7.0

6.3

7.3

5.0

Plantation (cocoa)

7.3

13.8

7.7

5.7

11.5

16.3

4.0

10.8

13.3

12.3

15.8

11.5

10.8

River

12.8

5.5

6.0

13.0

8.8

0.5

0.0

2.5

7.5

9.5

19.5

11.0

8.0

Swamps

11.3

8.5

19.3

15.0

13.0

0.8

15.5

15.0

12.0

12.8

9.5

10.3

11.9

Fields

16.8

8.8

4.7

5.7

7.0

11.0

0.0

1.8

22.8

12.0

13.3

11.5

9.6

Young fallow (<10yrs)

9.3

5.8

6.7

6.0

4.0

14.3

12.3

8.8

8.0

8.3

0.0

6.0

7.4

Old fallow (>10yrs)

11.3

8.5

16.3

9.3

10.8

13.3

18.0

11.8

6.3

10.0

1.5

6.5

10.3

Forest

20.8

27.3

26.3

29.7

34.3

33.3

50.3

30.5

13.0

22.0

15.5

18.3

26.8

Total

100.0

100.0

100.0

100.0

100.0

100.0

100.0

100.0

100.0

100.0

100.0

100.0

100.0

Forest

                         

Dense forest

34.0

43.3

27.7

40.7

49.5

28.8

50.3

25.5

40.5

42.5

28.0

37.3

37.3

Secondary forest

35.5

28.0

25.7

28.3

24.8

28.0

19.8

24.0

24.3

24.3

24.5

19.5

25.5

Close-by forest

22.8

22.8

32.7

21.0

14.0

40.8

19.3

31.5

21.3

22.0

37.0

24.5

25.8

Inundated forest

7.8

6.0

14.0

10.0

11.8

2.5

10.3

19.5

14.0

11.3

10.5

18.8

11.4

Total

100.0

100.0

100.0

100.0

100.0

100.0

100.0

100.0

100.0

100.0

100.0

100.0

100.0

 

Explanation of use class codes:

FO = Food
ME = Medical
LC = Light Construction
HC = Heavy Construction
TO = Tools
FW = Firewood
BAC = Basketry and Cordage

OR = Ornamentation/Ritual
MI = Marketable Items
HP = Hunting Place
RE = Recreation
FT = Future
OA = Overall (=Average )

These are some of the preliminary results and observations from the first analyses of our data and the field work:

  • The most important landscape unit for people in Nkolbibanda is their village. They say "Without our village we could not live".

  • The importance of forest is regarded firstly as 'potential land for agriculture'. Secondly, it is considered important for the products people can harvest.
  • Agriculture is the most important provider of marketable products.
  • When asked what threatens the forest, people answer "logging of valuable and useful trees" and "fire" because fire destroys the litter that fertilizes the soil.
  • Poaching and hunting are also considered dangerous. If the animals disappear, they will not be able to hunt them anymore. A few people mentioned it would destabilize the functioning of the forest.
  • Of course all the above-mentioned threats are activities people regularly perform themselves. When asked why they continue with them, despite the threat they recognize, most answer they don't feel they have a choice or that it is 'outsiders' who do the logging and poaching. For example: people used to hunt a wild pig, but it has disappeared due to over-hunting.
  • Most people say their life has become more difficult in the last 5 to 10 years. More cash is needed now, not only for buying commodities like soap, petroleum and matches, but especially to send children to school. They hope that education will help their children find a better future, mostly in the city.
  • People know about old traditions and taboos concerning the forest, but they say that nowadays these practices and beliefs are no longer heeded, especially by young people. Some of the taboos concern threatened species, like chimpanzee and gorilla. According to a local legend, a gorilla used to be the protector of the village but to see him was considered bad luck. Chimpanzees are also bad luck when seen or heard 'crying', and should be avoided.
  • A very valuable timber species, but also powerful medicinal tree is Guibourtia tessmannii. People believed it should not be approached, let alone cut down, except by certain elders and under certain conditions. Early missionaries who came to evangelize this area made a point of systematically breaking such beliefs by demonstrating that the effects would not happen. Still, some practices remain and probably more than are openly admitted.

    pdm_chart.gif (3156 bytes)Women's traditional role is in plant cultivation, but younger women are getting attracted to farming animals. Older people focus more on wild plants than younger generations. Men, young or old, prefer hunting to other sources of meat.

     

     

     

  • Despite the explicit importance given to agriculture, the plot survey and species ranking exercises indicated that a very large number of forest species are important to people's livelihoods. More detailed information on this will become available as the analysis progresses.
  • It was difficult to involve women in the field activities. They felt it would take time from their field activities and also that they did not know enough. This is due to the fact that women born in the village all leave to marry. Thus, all married (or widowed) women in the village come from outside the clan.

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