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Project July 8, 2022

The Ecological and Human Impact of the Disappearance of Sacred Forests in Central Africa: The Case of Cameroon and DRC


The sacred forests of Central Africa are undergoing accelerated degradation. They are the scene of ritual practices and a shelter for totems, and access to them is reserved for initiates and spiritual guides. Their 'spiritual' character is no longer sufficient to dissuade an ever-growing riparian population, as well as uncontrolled urbanization. This is reflected in the penetration of these forests for agricultural practices, hunting, illegal cutting of firewood, and the sale and illegal occupation of plots.

This is particularly the case in the Equateur province in the northwest of the Democratic Republic of Congo and in the highlands of western Cameroon. Thus, according to data collected in 2021 in this region by the NGO Rainforest Alliance, the sacred forests of the highlands of western Cameroon have lost more than 60% of their area over the past thirty years. These spaces of heritage sovereignty represent the last bastions of the forest, in an agricultural region where the average population density is 718.8 inhabitants per km ², according to data from the mapping site DB City.com.