Community-Based Biodiversity Conservation Management

Reaching the Goal of Biodiversity Conservation and Community Development

Master's Thesis, 2007

115 Pages, Grade: 1.7









1.1 Problem setting
1.2 Objectives
1.3 Importance of the study
1.4 Scope and limitations of the study

2.1 The Government of Cameroon (GoC)
2.2 Korup National Park (KNP)
2.3 The Korup Project (KP)

3.1 Theoretical concepts
3.2 Hypotheses
3.3 Conceptual framework

4.1 Trend towards linking livelihood and conservation
4.2 The arguments behind local community involvement
4.3 Role of national/international environmental NGOs and communities in ICDPs
4.4 Biodiversity conservation and rural development
4.5 Economic and other incentives

5.1 Research methods
5.2 Research design and survey procedure
5.3 Field research instruments
5.4 Sample Design
5.5 Data collection

6.1 Research findings
6.2 Interpretation of the findings
6.2.1 Results to Hypothesis 1
6.2.2 Results to Hypothesis 2
6.2.3 Results to Hypothesis 3

7.1 Discussion
7.2 Conclusions
7.3 Recommendations





I would like to use this opportunity to express my profound appreciation and gratitude to all those who gave me the possibility and support to complete this thesis.

In this manner I want to first of all thank my colleagues of the Hans Boeckler Stiftung (Foundation) especially Dr. Irmgard Kucharzewski and Dagmar Jans for the wonderful financial and moral support they gave in making my Master Studies possible, especially in the collection of the data for this thesis in Cameroon.

Many thanks and appreciation also goes to Dr Schmidt-Soltau Kai who accepted to advice and supervised me, providing me with primary materials for the collection of my data in the Korup National Park. Furthermore I want to thank Mrs Mary Meboka, the deputy Mayor in Mundemba, Cameron who provided me with inside information about the different villages in the support zone and helped in the selection of the sampled villages.

I am bound and indebted to Chief Adolf Nwese and Prince Cletus Nwese of the KREO/KOGAN indigenous NGO and their families, all in Mundemba, for their sincere and familial assistance which I obtain. This goes especially to Prince Nwese who was with me all through my trip in the 11 villages in and around the National Park. I would not have made it without him. My gratitude also goes to Mr Akwaba alias “Akwa works” for the heart beating experience I had with him during the survey.

Without forgetting the assistance and help of the Chief of Post for Forestry and Wildlife in Idenau, Mr Nemoh George and the technical consultant for natural resource management for the GTZ in Buea, Mr. Okenye Mambo who provided me with much needed secondary data; to them all I extend my deepest and special gratitude.

I am deeply indebted to my supervisors in Goettingen, Germany, Prof. Dr. Max Krott, Dr. Christian Hubo, PD Dr. Olschewski Roland, for granting me the possibility and liberty to work in my own way as well as supervision of this thesis and whose help, stimulating suggestions and encouragement helped me in all the time of research for and writing of this thesis.

To my present and former colleagues from the George-August-University Goettingen, Germany in the Masters Programme, “Tropical and International Forestry”, I want to thank them for all their help, support, interest and valuable hints. I am especially obliged to Bianca Dunker and Christoph Neitzel who looked closely at the final version of the thesis for English style and grammar, correcting both and offering suggestions for improvement. Many thanks also to Marco Harbusch, Sol Heber, Chistof Jaszczuk and all the others whose names have not been listed here.

I would like to give my special thanks to my most dear girlfriend Mai Zeidani, who was of great help in difficult times and whose patience and love enabled me to complete this work. Spiritual thanks also to my deceased landlady Prof. Dr. Gerda Freise who just passed away. Her continuous political support and encouragements led me through. To all my colleagues, brothers and sisters in the struggle for freedom and justice and against Racism here in Germany and elsewhere in the world, I express my deepest thanks for your support and solidarity.

Last but not least, special thanks to my daughter who might not realise it now, but she was the driving force of my convictions to study and also finish this work. To my family in Cameroon and in Germany, I express my heart-felt gratitude. This work also goes to my deceased parents who would have certainly been proud of my accomplishments and are definitely proud wherever they are now. To them I owe a great deal of knowledge and strength.


Figure 1 Map of Cameroon, also showing neighbouring countries

Figure 2 Protected Area Network in Cameroon

Figure 3 Korup National Park in the South West Province

Figure 4 Villages in and around the KNP

Figure 5 Conceptual Framework to investigate the implementation of CBC in Cameroon, with case study of the KNP

Figure 6 No linkage

Figure 7 Indirect linkage

Figure 8 Direct linkage

Figure 9 A general model of conservation projects

Figure 10 Models of three conservation strategies

Figure 11 Four sources of error in social survey research

Figure 12 Fabe Village showing the structure of the houses

Figure 13 Sampled Village circled in KNP and support zone


Table 1 Citizen involvement in Conservation decision-making

Table 2 Name of the village and population

Table 3 Sex

Table 4 Sex * How old are you? Cross tabulation

Table 5 How do you see the forest?

Table 6 Quantitative: Why?

Table 7 Is it important for you to have a forest with animals?

Table 8 Quantitative: Why?

Table 9 What do you think about conservation of the forest?

Table 10 Quantitative argument why

Table 11 Have you heard about Korup Project?

Table 12 Is it still existing?

Table 13 Quantitative: What do you think about KP?

Table 14 Quantitative: What were the major activities of the KP?

Table 15 Quantitative: What were ist aims and objectives?

Table 16 Do you have any traditional methods of conservation?

Table 17 Quantitative: Which method and how effective is it?

Table 18 Was your village involved and consulted in the planning and implementation of the KP activities?

Table 19 Was the creation of the KNP a good or a bad approach?

Table 20 Quantitative: Why?

Table 21 Did the KP contribute to the conservation of the forest?

Table 22 How effective were the methods used?

Table 23 Are the methods still implemented today?

Table 24 How often did you see the KP Staff in your village?

Table 25 Were you satisfied with the interaction of the KP Staff and local population?

Table 26 Do they still come today?

Table 27 Have you or your village benefited from the KP/NP activities?

Table 28 How was the end of the KP for you?

Table 29 Has there been any change in the village due to the activities of the KNP?

Table 30 What is the importance of the government in the KP?

Table 31 What is the importance of the WWF in the KP?

Table 32 What is the importance of the EU/GTZ in the KP?

Table 33 What is your importance in the KP?

Table 34 How do you feel now after the KP is no longer working in your village?


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Contextual Definition of Terms

Community refers to a heterogeneous group of people who share residence in the same geographic area and access to a set of local natural resources. The degree of social cohesion and differentiation, strength of common beliefs and institutions, cultural diversity and other factors vary widely within and among communities (Schmink 1999)

Community Forest is “That part of Non-permanent forest estate (not more than 5000ha) that is the object of an agreement between government and a community in which communities undertake sustainable forest management for a period of 25 years renewable”. (under Cameroon law of 1994). It is a forest established through an agreement by which the service in charge of forestry allots to a community a portion of national forest, which the community manages, preserves and exploits in its own interest (Manga et al., 2001).

Community participatory policies: Formulation of policies with the objective of involving the local stakeholders or communities in projects which affect them

Conservation refers to the long-term maintenance of ecosystem biodiversity through the management of multiple forms of resource use and preservation. The concept, as defined here, applies to the landscape scale (as opposed to genetic or species-level conservation), and includes the different human groups as well as the natural species that inhabit the ecosystem (Schmink 1999).

A Dependent variable is the value of an outcome, i.e. output. E.g the dummy variable 0 and 1

Devolution of authority is the decentralization of power and responsibilities from state level to local stakeholders and NGOs with operating authority from their institutions following the bottom-up strategy instead of top-down rule

The Dja Reserve is located in the East and South Provinces of Cameroon. It covers an area of 5,260 sq. km and is classified among the largest protected areas of the Guinea-Congolian tropical rain forests. The Dja Wildlife Reserve is located at the meeting point of the low Guinean area and the Congolese Basin. The Reserve accommodates a large proportion of the equatorial flora and wildlife species including such endangered species as the forest elephants, the chimpanzees, and the gorillas (Jean Lagarde BETTI).

An independent variable is any of the arguments, i.e. input or a variable on which one has control; e.g. satisfaction of interaction of park staff with local community.

Indicators are performance objectives or targets; i.e. they are concrete, specific descriptions of what one has to measure. E.g., “participatory natural resource management can only be successful if nearly everybody (more than 75%) is satisfied with the benefits, the level of participation, the methods applied and the general interaction (Ghimire and Pimbert, 1997; cited in Schmidt-Soltau, 2000).

Level of integration implies the intensity and stages of interaction of the different stakeholders.

Macro- and Micro levels: Between national institutions and local people, e.g. a forestry department vs shifting Cultivators. (Grimble et al., 1997)

Opportunity Cost is the value of the next best choice that one gives up when making a decision. Any decision that involves a choice between two or more options has an opportunity cost. E.g. forgoing forest activities like hunting to conserve the forest or maintain wildlife.

Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) is a short-cut method of data collection. It is a methodology for action research and utilizes a range of techniques. It involves local people and outsiders from different sectors and disciplines. Outsiders facilitates local people in analyzing information, practicing critical self-awareness, taking responsibility and sharing their knowledge of life and conditions to plan and to act. (Handari 2003).

Stakeholders are different social actors, formal or informal, who can affect, or be affected by, the resource management issues at hand (Schmink 1999).

Stakeholder analysis involves different levels of analysis and relationships to resources, including organizations, groups and individuals at international, national, regional and local levels, as well as different actors within local communities and domestic groups (Schmink 1999)

Support (buffer) zone: A 3km Peripheral Zone including 23 villages and a population of 2,700. The Peripheral Zone aims to target those people living closest to the Park boundary who necessarily bear the brunt of the costs of KNP and who have most impact on it ( KNP Management Plan 2002-2007). This was created in order to help local people find sustainable economic alternatives to the present hunting, trapping, gathering and deforesting practices in the park.

Traditional and indigenous conservation methods: These are carried out through traditional hunting seasons, NTFPs harvesting practices, establishment of sacred forest by the secret traditional societies, dealing with the problems of the environment through self or transferred experience, with the respect to certain taboos.

Traditional institutions are village or customary councils like the village traditional council e.g., the Ekpe Society for the regulation of traditional norms/customary laws.

With and Without principle: The impacts of a concrete project can be depicted as the difference between the situation with and without project. When this “With and without principle” is applied, it has to be taken into consideration that a situation without project is likely to change over the planning horizon. This holds especially for forestry projects with a long duration. If CBC is not sustainable, project costs or benefits are likely to be over- or underestimated. Additionally, only effects that are actually caused by the project are to be included in the analysis (Bergen et al., 2002; Hanusch, 1994; Olschewski, 2004; cited in Heber et al., 2006).


Community-Based Conservation (CBC) refers to wildlife conservation efforts that involve rural people as an integral part of a wildlife conservation policy. In Africa and specifically in Cameroon, there have been changes in state policies towards natural resources management particularly forest resources. This study deals basically on Cameroon, with national forest cover of over 42% which constitutes one of its major economic resources. Since 1995, a new forest policy act was enacted (proclaimed in 1994) to accommodate two approaches, that is, Community Forestry and sustainable forest management. Conserving and enhancing biodiversity through rural peoples’ involvement was one of the components of the new forest policy act of 1995. The study analyses the conditions under which the CBC policies can be successfully implemented in Cameroon, with the case of the Korup National Park (KNP) and its support zone and the former Korup Project (KP). It also investigates the interest and the relationship of the different stakeholders concerned, especially the local community.

The thesis uses three hypotheses (which are limited to CBC), semi-structured questionnaires and secondary data to test or investigate successful policy implementation in the KNP by analysing, (i) the role the local communities, (ii) the international environmental NGOs and groups played in the former Korup Project (1988-2003) and (iii) the level of biodiversity conservation and rural development in the Korup Project Area (KPA). The study was carried out in the southern sector of the KNP with a simple-random sampling of 78 respondents out of 11 villages of the 32 villages in and around the National Park.

The results indicate: (i) low participation of the local communities in the Integrated Conservation and Development Project (ICDP) and later joint participatory biodiversity conservation and rural development approach of the KP, (ii) a difficult relationship between the international stakeholders and the local communities, and (iii) a temporary success in biodiversity conservation and a failure in rural development.

From the results, it is concluded and recommended that though the Government of Cameroon (GoC) has enacted many policies of authority devolution in the forestry and wildlife sector to include the local communities in biodiversity conservation projects, much still has to be done to practically implement these policies. Furthermore, it is recommended that a better interactive relationship be established between future project authorities and the local communities. This would then most probably enhance successful joint participatory biodiversity conservation and rural development in the KPA.

Although more research is needed, the study indicates that it is not too late to successfully implement a community-based biodiversity project which will reduce pressure in the KNP and at the same time enhance rural development for the communities in and around the Park.

Keywords: Community-Based Biodiversity Conservation, Integrated Conservation and Development Project, local communities, Korup National Park, Korup Project.


In Afrika - speziell in Kamerun - gab es in der Vergangenheit bezüglich des Naturressourcenmanagements und dort im speziellen gegenüber der Waldressource bemerkenswerte Veränderungen in der politischen Linie. Diese Studie befasst sich im Wesentlichen mit Kamerun, dessen Waldfläche über 42% umfasst, und somit eines der wertvollsten Ressourcen des Landes darstellt. Seit 1995 greift eine „neue“ Forststrategie, welche zwei Ansätze miteinander verbinden soll: Gemeindewald und nachhaltige Forstverwaltung. Community-Based Conservation (CBC) bezieht sich auf Bemühungen des Wildtierschutzes unter Einbeziehung der ländlichen Bevölkerung als ein integraler Bestandteil von Wildlife Conservation Policy. Erhaltung und Erhöhung der Artvielfalt unter Einbeziehung der ländlichen Bevölkerung ist eine zentrale Komponente der „neuen“ Forststrategie von 1995. Die Studie analysiert die Bedingungen unter denen die politischen Leitlinien des CBC erfolgreich in Kamerun umgesetzt werden konnten bzw. können. Besonderer Bezug wird hierbei genommen auf den Korup National Park (KNP) und das ehemalige Korup Project (KP). Außerdem wird das Interesse und die Beziehung zwischen den verschiedenen s takeholders untersucht – im Speziellen die der lokalen Gemeinde.

Die Arbeit basiert auf drei Hypothesen (begrenzt auf CBC), den Ergebnissen aus einem halbstandardisierten Fragebogen und Sekundärliteratur. Dies dient dazu, zu erfahren, ob und wie erfolgreich der KNP war bzw. ist. Hierzu werden analysiert, (i) die Rolle der lokalen Gemeinden, (ii) die internationalen Umwelt-NGOs und ähnliche Akteure im ehemaligen Korup Projekt (1988-2003), und (iii) der Level von Artenvielfaltschutz und ländlicher Entwicklung in dem Korup Project Gebiet (KPA). Die Studie wurde in dem südlichen Sektor des KNP durchgeführt. Die Interviewpartner wurden durch einfache Zufallsauswahl zur Befragung ermittelt. Insgesamt wurden in 11 von 32 Dörfern in und um den Nationalpark 78 Befragungen durchgeführt.

Die Ergebnisse deuten an: (i) geringe Beteiligung der lokalen Gemeinden im Integrated Conservation and Development Project (ICDP) und späteren gemeinschaftlich mitwirkenden Artvielfaltschutz- und ländlichen Entwicklungsansatz des KP, (ii) eine schwierige Beziehung zwischen internationalen s takeholders und den lokalen Gemeinden, und (iii) einen kurzweiligen Erfolg im Artenvielfaltschutz und ein Scheitern in der ländlichen Entwicklung. Aus den Ergebnissen lässt sich schließen: trotz des Erlasses entsprechender politischer Richtlinien zur Dezentralisierung im Bereich Forst und Wildlife (unter Einbeziehung der lokalen Gemeinden in Artvielfaltschutzprojekte) durch die kamerunische Regierung (GoC), fehlt es noch an Erfolgen in der praktischen Umsetzung. Darüber hinaus empfiehlt sich eine bessere interaktive Beziehung zwischen zukünftigen Projektleitungen und den betroffenen lokalen Gemeinden. Das würde sehr wahrscheinlich zu einer Verbesserung des gemeinschaftlich mitwirkenden Artvielfaltschutzes und ländlichen Entwicklung in der KPA führen.

Auch wenn weitere Forschung erforderlich ist, deutet diese Studie darauf hin, dass es nicht zu spät ist, erfolgreich ein CBC-Projekt durchzuführen. Es erscheint plausibel, dass ein solches Projekt den Nutzungsdruck of den KNP reduziert und gleichzeitig zur Verbesserung der ländlichen Entwicklung in Gemeinden in und um den Park beiträgt.

Schlüsselwörter: Community-Based Biodiversity Conservation, Integrated Conservation and Development Project, lokale Gemeinden, Korup National Park, Korup Project.


In Africa and specifically in Cameroon, there has been changes in state policies towards natural resource management; particularly forest resources. Cameroon has a national forest cover of 42% (CERD, 1997) which constitutes one of its major economic resources. Since 1995, a new forest policy act was enacted (proclaimed in 1994) to accommodate two approaches, that is, Community Forestry and Sustainable Forest Management. Conserving and enhancing biodiversity through rural peoples involvement was one of the components of the new forest policy act of 1995. This was done with the aim of protecting the environment and conserving resources and also as a mechanism to alleviate poverty through rural development. And like most other less industrialised countries, which have tried to implement new forest laws or direct participation of the local communities in forest management, Cameroon has had its successes and failures in formulating and implementing such new laws.

The Government of Cameroon (GoC) with its new forest policy of 1994 represented an important step towards addressing sustainable renewable resource management in the context of an overall national development strategy. The new forest law defined the regulatory basis for management of the forest estate. The law provides participation of local communities in the management of certain categories of gazetted forests, and requires the preparation and implementation of government-approved management plans for forests to be re-gazetted under the law as a prerequisite for granting future timber concessions.

The effectiveness of this law has since then been dependent on the government's capacity to develop management plans for sustainable forest exploitation and biodiversity conservation on a participatory basis and to monitor and enforce their implementation, especially in gazetted areas. Though the protected areas management approaches that involve the participation of local communities are now being widely promoted all over in Cameroon, the impacts of such Community-Based Conservation Initiatives on local communities remain poorly defined. This also includes national parks like the Korup National Park (KNP).

Historically, most of Cameroon’s national parks have been established in the more accessible savannah zone, in the North of the country. It was only at the beginning of the fourth quarter of the last century, with the growing interest in biodiversity conservation and concern over deforestation that more attention has been paid by western conservationists, with pressure on some West and Central African states, to the conservation of tropical rainforests. It was in this light that in the early 1980s due to “the rising awareness of conservation, and especially the willingness of international donors to support conservation of the tropical rainforest in Cameroon, that resulted in the creation of the KNP by presidential decree No. 86/1283, October 30, 1986, in 1986” (Schmidt-Soltau, 2004) as the first lowland tropical rainforest National Park.

1.1 Problem setting

Community-Based Conservation (CBC) management is gaining grounds year after year in Cameroon propagated by international and national NGOs, the Cameroon government and local communities. Community forests, gazetted areas like forest reserves and national parks have been created with the consultation of local and indigenous populations. International and state financed projects and programmes have been carried out in the last two decades to sustainably manage and conserve biodiversity through the communities involved.

The KNP stands as a model, with conflicts and harmony for the implementation of a variety of biological diversity conservation policies in Cameroon. Since its inception in 1986, the KNP has seen many changes in policy implementation, from state control, through support of environmental NGOs with Integrated Conservation and Development Projects (ICDPs), sustainable and participatory natural resource management, with local community involvement.

Since the onset of the idea of a national park in Korup, the creation of the KNP itself and the Korup Project (KP, the main interest of the study) that followed, much research and surveys have been carried out to review the formulation, planning and implementation of policies in the Korup Project Area (KPA, which is the KNP and its support zone). This however, has not really led to outstanding results to set an example to other park managements. And as Ruth Malleson (2000:295) in her dissertation described, “the KP’s socio-economic survey provided much important information and sound recommendations; but the project’s failure to make use of it and revise its rural development strategy in the light of the findings meant that the project continued to make poor progress and errors that could have been avoided”. How far this failure contributes to the end results of the KP and influences the continuous management of the KNP, with the importance of information flow in rational resource management and planning will be analyzed by this study.

The final phase of the KP in the South West of Cameroon was full of conflicts, distrust and mismanagement. Even though this phase of the project was oriented towards integrated community involvement, its impacts still have to be fully studied. An impact assessment was commissioned, which came out with results in June 2000 and reported to the then project staff. The findings of the research was a problem and as its author puts it, “it was an open secret that a good number of villages had informed the Korup Project that they were not interested in any further cooperation and that the Korup staff were not allowed to enter their villages or traditionally owned forest areas” (Schmidt-Soltau 2004: 111).

Although literally much is known about the stakeholders and the defined roles that they are supposed to play in conservation projects or programmes, the practicality on the field comes out with conflicting results. Officially, the KP which ended in 2003 was supposed to be an ICDP or a CBC with a development component, which implies the full involvement of the locals or indigenous people. Reports from many researches carried out in the area have proven otherwise. Studying the level and effects of conservation and development in the area three years after the end of the KP, will on the one hand confirm or shed more light on some of similar researches that were carried out during the project’s lifespan and on the other hand demonstrate the impacts, benefits or price endured, acquired or paid respectively by the local communities in the KPA after the end of the project.

This research study analysed the conditions under which the CBC concepts can be successfully implemented in Cameroon, investigating the interest and the relationship of the different stakeholders concerned with focus on the local community.

Using the theory on CBC, the successes and failures in the approaches in management, the social effects and how they impact the local community will be analysed in the thesis. In doing this, the research will come up with recommendations for the policy makers and also proposals to the local communities on how to better plan, coordinate and implement CBC policies.

With all these in mind, this thesis intends to answer the following research questions:

1. What are the prerequisites for success or failure of CBC Projects like that of the KNP?
2. What are the policies that mirror CBC management and how is it practiced in Cameroon, with the example of the KNP?
3. Who are the stakeholders (focus groups and individuals) involved and their level of involvement in conservation projects and programmes? KNP as case study
4. What are the strategies of policy implementation of CBC projects, their impacts and effects on the indigenous community (perception of the local communities of the KNP)?

1.2 Objectives

The main objective of this study is to contribute to the better understanding of the conditions to a successful CBC initiative, by analysing the policies, interests, activities, and practical realities of implementing CBC projects/programmes in Cameroon. Doing this is worthwhile; to better understand the successes and failures so as to propose recommendation for policies and projects/programmes, vis-à-vis biodiversity conservation management.

The specific objectives are:

1. To describe the overall concept of conditions for a successful CBC and contribution of the local community in the success or failure of biodiversity conservation projects.
2. To identify and analyse factors that lead to local communities’ participation in resource planning and management and the policies that control these factors.
3. To explore and analyse the role of NGOs, local communities’ participation and their level of involvement in the conservation of biodiversity in Cameroon, with the case study of the KNP.
4. To identify the links between conservation and development and the conditions of success, analysing how it was practiced in the KPA with community participation in the KP.

1.3 Importance of the study

Over the last three decades, the participation of the local communities and the indigenous people in nature conservation projects has been seen as a precondition for the success of such undertakings. In many countries of the tropics and in Cameroon in particular, financial and technical support from international conservation organizations and groups only come with the preconditions that the local communities participate and their interests equally represented in conservation project formulation and implementation.

This research carries the same weight of importance like any other research which has been carried out in the KPA. It also seeks to continue the line of researches concerning the formulation and implementation of policies of CBC projects and programmes in this area. The western style conservation of the rich African humid rainforest has come into much criticism and this study also addresses some of the criticism, problems and successes through analyses of the former KP of the KNP. The targeted groups on which this study would like to impact are the policy makers in the concerned region, but most important are the local NGOs and the communities who are trying to reshape their daily lives after the departure of the KP. This study also targets master students working in this and related fields of study.

Even those who were proclaimed through many reports of the different international organisations to have taken part in the KP (the communities in the KPA) did not know what the activities and objectives of the project were. The few who knew could not really connect these to their daily lives. This study would want to confirm or reject the results of Schmidt-Soltau (2000) who wrote, “while the theoretical premises of the Korup Project are focusing on a close interaction between rural development and conservation, only a small educated minority in the villages recognised this relation”. That is why this research is important in comparing theory and reality on the ground, based on quantitative and qualitative data that were collected in the area.

Furthermore, as earlier stated the study hopes to contribute in the field of study by identifying the conditions under which CBRMPs in Cameroon (example of KNP) are implemented, contributing in the better understanding of the characteristics and prerequisites of the success or failure of CBC Management projects. Although with reservations and limitations, this would enhance the possibilities in successful project implementation or highlight reasons for failures.

1.4 Scope and limitations of the study

The scope of this research is limited to the KPA in general and in particular, to the KNP and its support zones, the communities that must play a vital role in the management of the park. It explores and describes the nature of the KP during and after its lifespan. Though it tries to highlight the different activities of the project with the birth of forest resource management devolution after the 1994 proclaimed Community Forestry law enactment in Cameroon, it stops short of representing the overall picture of community involvement in conservation projects in Cameroon (although results could be similar elsewhere in Cameroon). It is also in part, a follow-up of a previous research carried out in the year 2000 by Dr. Kai Schmidt-Soltau, as can be seen by most of the formulated questions in the questionnaires that were used (see ANNEX I).

Due to the benchmarks of this thesis, it did not focus on establishing the quantitative significance on the relationships between variables but rather descriptive statistics in the analysis of data like frequencies and percentages. This does not mean it is not possible to establish this relationship from data collected. Different variables and indicators, through questionnaires and interviews are used to analyse the perception of rural people and other stakeholders. Part of the research methods follows the basis of an empirical-analysis approach whereby theory-based description and explanation of empirical evidence will be checked.

Although the study is confined to a specific project location, the southern part of the park and its buffer zones, which may not be enough to arrive at a generalization that may be applicable to any other locations, it is worthwhile noting that the impact of the results has a broader scope and implication. Despite these limitations, the study provides an in-depth information and valuable insights about the importance of the local community in reaching the goals CBC and rural development in Cameroon.

This chapter ends with a structural and background highlight of how the study is going to be analyzed. The geopolitical representation of Cameroon and the historical background of the project area will be reviewed in chapter 2. The theoretical framework (chapter 3) will be delineated, by first illustrating two of the different theoretical concepts of biodiversity conservations as per se, highlighting the involvement of the local communities and other stakeholders and later, a background of the three hypotheses. Also in this chapter, analytical models are going to be presented through a conceptual framework and background assumptions, so as to get a better understanding in using the research questions to build up the different variables, portraying the relationship (link) between them. Chapter 4 reviews the literature, relating the study objectives, questions and hypotheses, also citing important works related to CBC in the KNP, making it easier to understand the theoretical and practical methods used in the study. Chapter 5 then gives a brief theoretical and detailed practical methodology of how the empirical field study was carried out, describing the sample methods and population and also the instruments used to carry out the study and data collection and how the results were arrived at. This is followed by chapter 6, dealing with the results presentation and analysis of the data collected through the questionnaires. Finally, chapter 7 deals with the discussion, conclusions and recommendations of the study.


This chapter is very important due to the geopolitical location of Cameroon and the motivation behind the conservation of its biodiversity. The area and historical background of the KNP and the KP also recounted.

Cameroon, which acts as a bridge between West and Central Africa is situated in the geographical coordinates of 6 00 N, 12 00 E. With an area almost one and a half times bigger than Germany (Area total: 475,440 km2 – comparative: Germany: total area 356,733 km2;, Cameroon is located in Western Africa (sometimes Central Africa is preferred). It is bounded on the North by Lake Chad; on the East by Chad and the Central African Republic; on the South by the Republic of the Congo, Gabon, and Equatorial Guinea; and on the West by the Bight of Biafra (an arm of the Atlantic Ocean) and Nigeria. The country situated on the Gulf of Guinea, is shaped like an elongated triangle, and is with a rich forest and a relatively well-developed flora and fauna system. It is usually described as Africa in miniature because its diversity in ecosystems and climatic conditions are comparable with many African regions.

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Figure 1 Map of Cameroon, also showing neighbouring countries


Cameroon has four distinct topographical regions. In the south is a coastal plain, a region of dense equatorial rain forests; the Adamawa Plateau in the center, a region with elevations reaching about 1,370 m (about 4,500 ft) above sea level. This is a transitional area where forest gives way in the north to savanna regions. In the far north the savanna gradually slopes into the marshland surrounding Lake Chad and in the west is an area of high, forested mountains of volcanic origin. Located here is Mount Cameroon (4,095 m/13,435 ft), the highest peak in western Africa and an active volcano. The country’s most fertile soils are found in this region (

With a population of a little over 17 million people (July 2006 estimate) the Cameroon’s traditionally agricultural economy began changing in the late 20th century with the discovery and exploitation of offshore petroleum reserves. Seen as one of the main occupation of the country, agriculture is practiced by approximately 70 percent of Cameroon’s population and still contributes the largest share of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). It also has a relatively well developed system of forest and faunal reserves, most of which were established in the colonial era during the 1930s and 1940s (Ruth Malleson, 2000).

Almost a third of its territory is covered by tropical moist forests. Among African countries, Cameroon ranks second only to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in diversity of forest-dwelling primates, and among the top five in diversity of plant species. Cameroon is home to the only remaining population of black rhinoceroses in west central Africa. The humid forests of the littoral zone and the mountains of south-western Province rank among the world's top 100 areas for endemic bird species and exhibit high endemism for amphibians, reptiles and plants. The lowland forests of south-eastern Cameroon, although altered by accelerated harvesting practices over the past two decades, support some of the most concentrated and diverse populations of large mammals (elephants, forest ungulates, great apes) recorded in west or central Africa (World Bank, 1995). There are also well known protected areas and National Parks.

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Figure 2 Protected Area Network in Cameroon

(Source: Management Plan for KNP and peripheral zone 2002-2007)

2.1 The Government of Cameroon (GoC)

The Government of Cameroon, with technical support from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and other international bodies, initiated a national environmental management planning process which led to a National Environmental Management Plan (NEMP). In doing so, the GoC seek to gain experience with locally integrated resource management with regard to community participation in protected area management, to help expand grass-root participation in formulation of the NEMP. This would strengthen the scientific rigor and quality of the biodiversity conservation strategy to be developed within the framework of the NEMP. The then Ministry of Environment and Forestry (MINEF), now Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife, is the lead governmental agency that ensures coordination of programmes or projects concerning wildlife or biodiversity in particular. In addition to its other responsibilities, it is mandated (in coordination with the Ministry of Environment) to supervise nature conservation activities and is the governmental agency responsible for the organisation of protected areas and management of the country's natural heritage.

2.2 Korup National Park (KNP)

The KNP is situated in the South West Province of Cameroon, adjacent to the international boundary with Nigeria, 50 kms inland from the Bight of Biafra. It was originally gazetted as a forest reserve in 1937 as „Korup Native Administration Forest Reserve” by the British colonial powers. This humid tropical forest which is found in the Congo basin is believed by scientists to be one of the oldest of their kind in Africa and to have more than 3000 species of trees, plants, animals and insects. One of the veteran Korup pioneer researchers Stephen Gartlan after his researches estimated that the Korup forest is the home to 25% of African's primate species. Based on the research of Stephen Gartlan and Phil Agland, first conservation activities were carried out in the early eighties by the Earthlife Foundation and the GoC (Schmidt-Soltau, 2000: 6). Due to these activities, in June 1986, the ODA (now DFID) decided to sponsor further research in the area. As a result of these, the KNP was created and since then has received funding from a number of organisations like WWF, the EC, DFID, GTZ, USDoD, DED and FFI which have contributed towards the development of the Park and its support zone.

The KNP is the only lowland tropical rainforest national park (the southern part of which is almost certainly primary) in Cameroon, with most of the other national parks found in the more accessible savannas in the north of the Country. The park covers an area of 126,900 ha (1269 km2), with a human population of about 50,000 people living in 187 villages, 5 of them in the park (still waiting to be resettled) and 27 very close to the park, a 3 km support zone (which was before a much wider peripheral zone surrounding the park). It is believed that Korup lies at the centre of the Guinea-Congolian forest refugium, one of only two Pleistocene refugia proposed for Africa (KNP Management Plan 2002-2007).

Because of the park management, the Korup Project was established (1988-2003) to facilitate the smooth functioning and also to achieve the goals of the Park, which were to preserve the biodiversity and development of the Korup region. Found in Ndian Division, the headquarters of the park is situated in Mundemba, which in itself is a subdivision.

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Figure 3 Korup National Park in the South West Province

2.3 The Korup Project (KP)

Funded by ODA and WWF (which took over from Earthlife after the charity went into liquidation in March 1987), a first project proposal to secure the Korup National Park was elaborated and signed on February 3rd 1988 by the Government of Cameroon and WWF. This was the beginning of the KP, which lasted until the end of 2003 and about which this thesis is going to be based on. The rationale behind the establishment of the Korup Project was to contribute to “the protection of old, undisturbed forest in Korup National Park area, through the improvement in living standards and economic conditions in the surrounding support zone, through the raising of environmental awareness among local communities, and through protection of the National Park” (Mid-Term, 133).

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Figure 4 Villages in and around the KNP


Here, the theoretical perspectives are of utmost importance to understand the study. This is structured in the form of a background theoretical concept of the study (CBC), followed by the hypotheses. The hypotheses are limited to Community-Based Conservation from which two synonyms will be analysed. Furthermore, this chapter also deals with a conceptual framework to analyse the relationships between the communities and other stakeholders. The rationale behind all these is to define the variables that are vital for the study.

First of all, the term conservation will be defined; which according to the IUCN/WWF/UNEP World Conservation Strategy Definition, is “the maintenance of essential ecological processes and life-support systems, the preservation of genetic diversity, and the sustainable utilization of species and ecosystems” (Talbot, L. M., 1980; cited in MacDonald, Kenneth Iain-undated). Because conservation in the past decades has become a global issue, one has realised the importance of the indigenous and local populations and the roles they play in the maintenance and preservation of the endless depletion of our biodiversity. These roles are also defined in the following two concepts:

- Community-Based Conservation Initiatives (CBCIs),
- And Integrated Conservation and Development Projects (ICDPs).

3.1 Theoretical concepts

- Community-Based Conservation Initiatives (CBCIs)

The concept of CBCIs, by definition, operates at a local or community level. They tend to be voluntary, people-centred and participatory, with community members making management decisions (Murphree, 1994, cited in Forgie, V. et al., 2001: 6). Expertise may be provided by outside agencies but management responsibility remains with the community group. For conservation purposes a community can be defined as a number of people who have a goal and decide to work together to do something about it. While groups can contain mutual, overlapping and divergent interests and perspectives, the goal binds people together, giving them a common identity despite individual differences. The minimal trappings of a community (according to Daly & Cobb 1994, p. 175, cited in Forgie, V. et al., 2001) are:

- Allowing all citizens to participate;
- Accepting citizens’ responsibility;
- And respecting the diversity of citizens.

The rationale behind CBCIs is that, by working together, people are able to achieve more than individuals or organisations working on their own, and involving those affected is likely to result in a better and more acceptable long-term solution (Forgie, V. et al., 2001: 6). They reverse top-down, centre-driven conservation by focusing on the people who bear the costs of conservation. In the broadest sense, then, community-based conservation includes natural resource or biodiversity protection by, for, and with local communities (Western & Wright 1994, p. 7, Forgie, V. et al., 2001: 6).

In his paper, Wilcox (1994) also points out 5 points for effective stakeholder participation in a project or programme, stressing citizens’ involvement. These are: information, consultation, deciding together, acting together and supporting independent community initiatives. These points are furthermore explained by the statements of Forgie, V. et al. (2001) that state, “CBCIs promote a more active form of participation where citizens influence outcomes. Citizens are actively involved in suggesting options and sharing decision-making with other stakeholder groups. Power is decentralised, and community groups make decisions that affect their immediate environment. Community initiatives can be placed along a continuum from highly specialised activities that require the dedicated skills of specialists, to activities requiring no specific skills, just the willingness of individual members of the public to coordinate and be involved in projects. The table below taken from Forgie, V. et al. (2001) based on Wilcox (1994), illustrates this progression.

Table 1 Citizen involvement in Conservation decision-making

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* Action Planning is a process where experts, agencies and community members work together in intensive sessions to look at

Issues in an holistic way. Using a visual approach with drawings or scaled models people consider and communicate visions for their community’s future (see Wates, 1996; cited in Forgie, V. et al l, 2001).

§ Integrated Conservation and Development Projects (ICDPs)

Even though there is no universally accepted definition of what ICDPs are, biodiversity practitioners see them as biodiversity conservation projects with rural development components. ICDPs have many different names like “People-Centered Conservation and Development”, “Eco-development”, “grassroots conservation”, community-based natural resource management (CBNRM) and community wildlife management (CWM). All of which were created by the conservation organizations, rather than the indigenous and local people (Chapin, 2004). In a broader sense, the concept behind it is, “an approach that aims to meet social development priorities and conservation goals” (Hughes and Flintan, 2001), through integration of the indigenous and local community. Firstly introduced by the WWF in the mid-1980s, they have characteristic of biodiversity conservation objectives using socio-economic investment tools. ICDPs are more often than not seen as CBC projects but their approaches have common features that are more distinct from other CBC projects as highlighted below by Hughes and Flintan (2001):

- Biodiversity conservation is the primary goal;
- There is a recognised need to address the social and economic requirements of communities who might otherwise threaten biodiversity, and the natural resource base in general;
- The core objective is to improve relationships between state-managed protected areas and their neighbours;
- ICDPs do not necessarily seek to devolve control or ownership of protected area resources to local communities nor address this issue on the periphery of the parks;
- ICDPs usually receive funding from external sources, i.e., from bilateral or multilateral donors, and international conservation organisations. Without some form of external financial assistance government wildlife (or other conservation-related) department budgets can rarely afford to implement these projects;
- The majority of ICDPs are externally motivated and are initiated by conservation organisations and/or development agencies (even if implemented by governmental bodies);
- And they are generally linked to a protected area, more often than not, a national park.

There are also some assumptions that go in hand with the concept of ICDPs. These are:

- Creating other local livelihood options or alternatives will reduce human pressure on biodiversity, leading to its improved conservation;
- The local community and their livelihood practices, rather than ‘external factors’, comprise the most important threat to the biodiversity resources of the area in question;
- And ICDPs offer sustainable alternatives to traditional protectionist approaches to protected area management.

3.2 Hypotheses

Now based on these premises of the two concepts of CBC, the hypotheses below will be tested or better said confirmed or rejected using the study questionnaires.

Hypothesis 1

The involvement of the local community is important for the success of Biodiversity Conservation.

To confirm or reject this hypothesis, the level of involvement of the local communities in planning and implementation of conservation policies in the KNP through the KP will be analysed.

To test this first hypothesis, the perception of the community towards the KNP and the former KP will be investigated. This perception depends on several factors, one of them being the connections between conservation and the lives of the local community. Total dependence on forest means conservation will have a high impact on the livelihood of the community. Previous research from Schmidt-Soltau (2000) highlighted that the Korup Project was not very popular among the inhabitants of the region. As he also stated, “the perception of something is mostly linked to actions undertaken by the other side (other stakeholders)” (Schmidt-Soltau, 2000). Based on this statement, actions which were still in the memory of the villagers after the end of the KP were investigated. A survey was also made on the knowledge of the ordinary villager about the aims and objectives of the Korup Project. One main indicator will be the reaction of the villagers towards the end of the Korup Project. The questions used are especially related to the image of the Korup Project and will contribute in testing of the overall assessment of the political influence of the local community in the KP.

Hypothesis 2

The consideration of traditional conservation methods by international conservation groups and organisations is a success factor for sustainable conservation.

This hypothesis will be tested by analyzing the role of national and international environmental NGOs in ICDPs.

“Over the past 50 years, however, as biodiversity loss has been constructed as an international problem, conservation has also increasingly become the purview of international non-governmental organizations (NGOs), many of which have come to hold greater environmental authority than the governments of nation states. Often structured through class and racial bias, and ignorant of community-based practices for environmental management, contemporary conservation policy, practice and jurisdiction has emerged out of a past littered with struggles over sovereignty, competing ideologies of nature, conflicting use rights, and markedly inequitable power relations”(MacDonald, 2003: 2).

Traditional conservation methods (through the indigenous ways of living, working and sacred protected grounds) in Africa, and especially in Cameroon has made it possible that today, centuries after slavery and colonisation, there are still biodiversity conservation hotspots to be found here. In the recent past, conservation of biodiversity has become a contemporary issue which makes it difficult or counter-productive to ignore the interests of local and indigenous people or their traditional methods. International conservation groups and organisations have historically worked to exclude the local populace in conservation projects but now, those who in one way or the other still ignore the interests of indigenous or local people do that at their peril. Notwithstanding, one still finds that for example the history until present date of the creation of the KNP represents the colonial African myth propagated by the white colonial masters of “wilderness” and “vacant land without people”, a conservation myth, which even with CBC programmes in the so-called independent African state conservation policies still exist. The evacuation or resettlement of one of the six villages (Ikondo Kondo) outside the KNP is just an example. The remaining five villages are still waiting for resettlement, though not in the near future.

Not emphasising much on the contemporary thoughts, the aim here is to investigate the importance of local knowledge and traditional conservation methods to successfully implement a sustainable CBC conservation project with international NGOs and groups as stakeholders.

NGOs on the one hand, under Cameroon law are formed “under the Law on liberty of Associations (NO 90/053 of 19th December 1990), with their headquarters as well as their funding sources determining whether they are local, national or international” (UNEP, 1999; xxi). While on the other hand the “International Community” are basically characterised through interests generally expressed by some specific technical organisations concerned world-wide with conservation, exploitation and trade (e.g. European Union, UNEP, WWF, IUCN, CITES). The interests of these groups are manifested through participation by their representation at the various discussion seminars, workshops and meetings on biodiversity conservation. Several NGO's in the country are specifically orientated towards the sustainability of biological diversity.

Hypothesis 3

The integration of rural development is essential for the success of Biodiversity Conservation Projects.

This is based on the theory that Conservation involving the local community enhances biodiversity conservation and rural development. Here the theoretical objectives of biodiversity conservation and rural development will be practically tested using the KP, if it reached its targets.

As earlier highlighted, in biodiversity conservation projects, there are internal and external stakeholders. The internal stakeholders in this case are the Government of Cameroon (GoC) and the local communities in the KPA who are supposed to conserve biodiversity. The external stakeholders are the international NGOs or organisations like the WWF and the GTZ who try to influence the formulation and implementation of conservation projects through ideological, financial and technical assistance. In creating incentives through direct or indirect methods, they try to sensitise and motivate local communities through rural development and also using the capabilities of the local community to foster conservation objectives.

The ICDP was a model of the CBC used in the KP to provide support in the Park management plans and since the Korup Project was not a rural development project, but a conservation project, which used rural development as a method to reduce the pressure on forest resources, the local knowledge of the community on forest and conservation is very important. The third hypothesis will be used to analyse the local knowledge in biodiversity conservation and the methods used by the project in carrying out conservation and development. The purpose is the attempt to prove if there are direct and concrete linkages in the conservation and development objectives of the KP to attain its goal - the conservation of biodiversity in the KPA.

3.3 Conceptual framework

Since the ratification of the CBD by Cameroon, the State has embarked on many measures leading to the devolution of authority to the different stakeholders in the forestry and wildlife sector, especially the indigenous and local community. The results can be traced back to certain factors that can be statistically analysed. In dealing with the impact of implementing the CBC in Cameroon, one has to analyse some of these factors which might act as indicators for positive or negative correlations being influenced by certain changes. This research uses the following conceptual framework (below) as the basis for investigating the relationship or interaction in a CBC initiative between local communities and other stakeholders like the Government and international NGOs and groups:

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Figure 5 Conceptual Framework to investigate the implementation of CBC in Cameroon, with case study of the KNP

(Source: from author).

In figure 5, one sees that Government policies will affect the level of involvement of the local communities. This is indicated as shown with the yellow arrows and circles on the left of the diagram. On the right, because the Government gets financial and technical assistance from international bodies, it allows these Organisations to formulate and carry out projects with the aim of conservation and development. This again can be illustrated in green. Also at the bottom of the diagram (illustrated in turquoise), the international Organisations attempt to strengthen the capacity of the local communities to sustainably conserve biodiversity and help develop their communities through recognising and understanding their interests and roles. All these are focused to involve the community in conserving biodiversity while enhancing their development.

This is not as easy as shown in figure 5 and that is why this study will try analysing these variables and factors. There are obviously constraints in these relationships. In fact, at the root of the difficulties or conflicts between the Government, indigenous/local communities, international environmental organisations and groups and conservation itself lies a combination of historical, cultural and socio-political factors. These can be modelled in the following analyses:


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Community-Based Biodiversity Conservation Management
Reaching the Goal of Biodiversity Conservation and Community Development
University of Göttingen  (Institut für Forstpolitik und Naturschutz )
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Community-Based, Biodiversity, Conservation, Management
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Yufanyi Movuh Mbolo (Author), 2007, Community-Based Biodiversity Conservation Management , Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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