Profiling climate change vulnerability of forest indigenous communities in the Congo Basin

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The livelihood strategies of indigenous communities in the Congo Basin are inseparable from the forests, following their use of forest ecosystem goods and services (FEGS). Climate change is expected to exert impacts on the forest and its ability to provide FEGS. Thus, human livelihoods that depend on these FEGS are intricately vulnerable to climate impacts. Using the livelihood strategies of the two main forest indigenous groups; the Bantus and Pygmies, of the high forest zone of southern Cameroon; this paper examines the nature and pattern of their vulnerability to different climate risks as well as highlights how place of settlement in the forest contributes to the vulnerability of people in forest systems. Forests provide different capitals as FEGS and make direct and indirect contributions to livelihoods which are exploited differently by the two indigenous groups. The results show that vulnerability of forest communities is structured by lifestyle, culture and the livelihood strategies employed which are largely shaped by the place of settlement in the forest. The Pygmies living within the forests are engaged in nomadic gathering and foraging of non-timber forest resources. The Bantus prefer forest margins and are mostly preoccupied with sedentary farming, using the forest as additional livelihood opportunity. The contrasting lifestyles have implications on their vulnerability and adaptation to climate impacts which need to be taken into considerations in planning and implementation of national climate change adaptation strategies.

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