For many years, illegal logging and unsustainable exploitation of the lush tropical rainforest straddling the borders of Cameroon, Congo Brazzaville, and Gabon were common. Different interest groups took advantage of the remoteness of these border areas to carry out illegal activities.
But the situation changed 20 years ago. Thanks to the Tri-national, Dja-Odzala-Minkébé, TRIDOM transboundary conservation deal between the three countries. As a result, forests around logging concessions in the area enjoy high levels of protection.
The transboundary swathe of tropical known as Tri-national Dja-Odzala-Minkébé, TRIDOM is made up of protected areas in Cameroon (Dja), Congo Brazzaville (Odzala) and Gabon (Minkébé). The area covers 178,000 square kilometers, or 10-percent of the Congo Basin rainforest.
As well as being a large mammal stronghold, the landscape, which is almost 97 per cent of TRIDOM, is forested. Close to 65-percent of TRIDOM is covered by logging concessions. TRIDOM is also home to an indigenous Baka population of about 10,000 people.
In terms of state recognition, TRIDOM is covered by a 2004 agreement by the governments of Cameroon, Congo Brazzaville, and Gabon. Through which they committed to a coordinated approach and sustainable development of the inter-zone between protected areas. It is also one of the 12 Central Africa Forest Commission (COMIFAC)-recognized priority transboundary conservation programs in the Congo Basin. TRIDOM is also proposed as a “Man and Biosphere” Reserve (UNESCO-led feasibility study, on-going).
The advent of TRIDOM has been a game-changer in the three member countries. Apart from assuring the conservation of the rich forest ecosystem, illegal logging has largely been curbed. Above all, local communities have been involved in conservation efforts and now manage their resources. Even as the governments benefit from the win-win arrangement.
Our project therefore seeks to point out the various dividends of TRIDOM as a mutually beneficial cross-border initiative. The governments of Cameroon, Congo-Brazzaville, and Gabon are making more returns today from TRIDOM than if the deal never existed. Moreover, local communities have been empowered to take ownership of the management of their own resources. Thus, they have an interest in ensuring the project's success.
Above all, as an area that is also straddled by mining and logging activities, TRIDOM has put in place a framework to ensure the sustainable management of forest resources. Of course, our reports will be illustrated with data on the sustainable management of TRIDOM forest ecosystem.