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Exploring the possibilities of the sacred forests of West Cameroon
A definite conservation model
This is not a common occurrence! Science and tradition agree on the importance of sacred forests in the conservation of biodiversity and more globally in the protection of the environment.
Cameroon has one of the largest forest massifs of the Congo Basin with forests covering about 45% of the national territory, of which 22% of the national area is classified as protected areas. Between 1995 (7%) and 2011 (18%), the national network of protected areas has grown considerably and covers rainforests, dry forests and forest-savanna mosaics.
Despite the efforts made by public and private authorities, conservation faces several constraints, including the very low rate of monitoring due to the insufficient number of eco-guards. In African countries where they exist, sacred forests are the traditional method of biodiversity conservation.
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This is the case in the western region of Cameroon where they help to protect particular ecosystems or habitats and thus present positive aspects that can enrich national policy in this area (FAO). They can only be entered if authorized by the traditional authority who is the guarantor.
This survey aims to identify the mechanisms put in place by the Grassfields populations to enhance and preserve this heritage, in accordance with the requirements of the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa (2002).
On the other hand, in the eastern and southern regions, particularly in the Ocean department (the subject of the next articles), the Indigenous peoples, although intimately linked to the forest, are powerless to witness its disappearance due to illegal exploitation.
They claim the institutionalization of their own chiefdoms and include the notion of territory to preserve the forest, which is the guarantee of the protection of their cultural identity and therefore of biodiversity.