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Cameroon

The rainforests of Cameroon are among the most diverse habitats in Africa, but remain under great threat from commercial logging.

About Cameroon
Continent: Africa
Size of rainforest: 24 million hectares
Rate of deforestation: 0.9%
Main indigenous forest peoples: Baka, Beti, Bulu, Fang, Bagyeli
Main threat to rainforest: Commercial and illegal logging, clearance for farmland and plantations
GDP per capita: $1,900
Size of country: 465,400 sq km
Population: 15.4 million
Children in Cameroon

The rainforests of Cameroon are among the most diverse habitats in Africa, but remain under great threat from commercial logging.

The World Bank-accompanied forest policy reform of the 90s culminated in the 1994 Forest Code. The model of managing forests through licensing large scale industrial logging concessions became the prevailing form of forest management. This model is now widely acknowledged to have failed, insofar as producing benefits for communities and reducing rural poverty.  Illegal logging continues to be a major problem; government capacity in enforcing legislation on forests is extremely weak and corruption is widespread. The damage caused by logging is not limited to the direct impact of felling timber trees. The construction of roads by logging companies encourages settlers to move into the forest, and bushmeat hunters and poachers frequently move in alongside, decimating the forest fauna.

The forests are home to the Baka, Bakola, Bedzang and Bagyeli (BBBB) 'Pygmy' peoples, many of whom are dependent on local Bantu farmers for their livelihoods.  The Baka are the largest group; living in the Eastern and Southern Provinces, and constituting a majority in some localities. The Bayeli and Bakola live in the coastal zone of the Southern Province north of Campo Ma’an National Park. The smaller Bedzang group lives near Ngambe Tikar in the Northern part of the Centre Province. 

Many Pygmy people are denied basic rights of citizenship. Their use of the forest is not recognised in Cameroonian law. Community forestry, the only legal path for communities to manage the forest, has only benefited a handful of villages and only one Baka community. Some BBBB people live their entire lives in conditions of semi-slavery, many do no possess identity papers, which means that they can’t vote or have access to essential services like health care and education, and their traditional chiefs are not recognized by government.

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