History of economic development and forest land-use in the Fako-Meme forest region of Cameroon


Keywords: History, economic development, forest land use, deforestation, Fako-Meme region, Cameroon

Abstract

The article is devoted to investigating a number of issues within the forest landscape of the Fako-Meme, south west region of Cameroon. An assessment of the history of economic development and use of forest in the studied territory was carried out. It was observed that the rate at which these forests are been hewn down for various purposes under the pretext of development leaves much to be desired. The deforestation of the forest with the attendant problems of resource degradation, environmental mutation is a cause for alarm. In order to understand the mutations taking place in the forest landscape, the history of forest use in 4 different periods: 1) the pre-colonial era (before the arrival of European explorers), (2) German colonial rule (1884-1916), (3) British colonial rule (1916-1961) and (4) Independence and post Independence Cameroon (1961-present day). It was observed that during the pre-colonial era the forest landscapes were very stable. Forest degradation in the territory started with the introduction of extensive mechanized agriculture introduced by the colonial masters through the opening of large agro-industrial plantations of rubber, palms and bananas. This forest ecological region suffers from a number of challenges. These problems were investigated in detail with proposals made for the sustainable management of forest resources in this forest ecosystem situated in    the heart of the humid tropical region of the South West of Cameroon. These forests provide for a wide range of human needs ; medicine, timber , fuel wood, non- timber forest products (NTFPs), food crop production and cash crop cultivation. The pattern of land-use change in the Fako-Meme region was studied in three distinctive periods (1978, 2000 and 2015). The results revealed that anthropogenic activities have been systematically raping the forest landscapes so that the environments are only a skeleton or shadow of their former selves. This is an ecological region in which forest gives way to farmlands and plantations. In this respect, we see that what was a forest landscape in the past is now consisting of a succession of cocoa farms, palm, rubber as well as other economic cash crop plantations, with cocoa being the most important cash crop in the region. Evidence from our analysis reveals that this region   has lost 42% of its forest cover within the period 1978-2015. This dynamic can be considered catastrophic. If this trend continues uninterruptedly in the region, then in 60-70 years, the Fako-Meme and the slopes of Mount Cameroon will remain without forest. It is easy to imagine the consequences of this. The study calls for urgent adaptive environmental strategies for the sustainable management of forest and its resources in the region.

Author Biography

Nayombe Moto Theophilus Mukete
Odessa I. I. Mechnikov National University

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Published
2019-10-12