4. System of Analysis

Submitted by Michael Rastall | published 9th Aug 2012 | last updated 13th Jan 2020

4.1 The Broader System

The system of analysis is located in the Tri-National de la Sangha (TNS) landscape, which consists of three national parks: Lobéké (Cameroon), Nouabalé-Ndoki (ROC) and Dzanga- Ndoki (CAR), covering 4,520,000 ha in total. The TNS landscape spans over four districts (“Préfectures” or “Départements”) located in three countries: Cameroon, Central African Republic, and Republic of Congo (see Figure 1). The areas surrounding the national parks, around 3,751,800 ha in total, have multiple uses with zones for logging concessions, community use and professional hunting (Usongo and Nzooh 2008).

Important progress has been made in land use planning within the TNS landscape, although there are still overlaps between different land uses that need solving. A number of national parks have management plans approved, as do a number of forestry concessions and wildlife zones. Furthermore, several forest concessions have approved management plans and some forestry companies are part of sustainable certification schemes. Currently, a total of 1,051,600 ha out of 3,388,803 ha of forest concessions are certified under the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) (Usongo and Nzooh 2008).

The TNS economy is greatly based on extractive exploitation of forest resources. In the formal sector the main resource is timber and in the less formal sector there is extraction and trade of several mineral ore (e.g. diamonds, gold, aluminum, and others), bushmeat, palm wine, fish and other non-timber forest products (NTFPs). Agricultural production is also important, mainly for subsistence but also for commerce. The impacts of this extractive economy on the socio-economic conditions and activities in the villages are not easy to quantify as they are diffuse and vary over time. However, it is possible to quantify low levels of basic services and high levels of poverty. In general, social services, such as education and health benefit little from the incomes generated from forest exploitation. Although some local people find employment in this industry, most of the jobs go to high-skilled workers who come from abroad (Usongo and Nzooh 2008).

With a total population of around 200,000, the population density of the TNS landscape is estimated at 5 individuals per km2. Approximately two thirds of the populations in the more industrialized towns are immigrants from outside the TNS landscape that come to work for the forest concessions or Forest Management Units (FMUs). Table 2 summarizes the human population densities and distributions in major towns and villages within the TNS landscape.

The main threats to biodiversity conservation within the TNS landscape are hunting and the commercial trade of bushmeat, unsustainable commercial logging, uncontrolled mining, ivory trade and the capture and trade of unique wildlife like the African Grey Parrot (Usongo and Nzooh 2008).The overlap of different land uses is also an issue and has oftentimes led to conflicts in the area. Figure 2 shows for example the overlap between mining concessions, forests and national parks in the Cameroon side of the TNS landscape.

In terms of vegetation cover change in the TNS landscape, primary forest has been heavily exploited in many areas mainly by commercial logging. According to Usongo and Nzooh (2008), the only exceptions are un-logged forests of the Dzanga-Ndoki zone and part of northern Congo. The estimated proportion of forest loss for the period 1990 - 2000 is about 0.2 %, which is relatively low when compared to other areas in the Congo Basin (Table 3). However, this rate has increased to 0.32% between 2000 and 2005 mainly due to factors such as increased allocation of forest concessions and expanding slash-and-burn agricultural practices in the region (Usongo and Nzooh 2008).

4.2 The Specific System of Analysis

The specific system of analysis for the COBAM project comprises four Community Forests (CFs) in the Cameroonian side of the TNS landscape. Community Forests are forested areas in the non-permanent forest zones reaching a maximum surface of 5,000 ha, which are managed under agreement between a group of villages and the forest administration with the main objective of pursuing sustainable extraction of wood for the social benefit of the participatory villages (see article 31, 5 of the Forest Law No 94). In order to start activities in a CF the management entities need to collectively develop a Simple Management Plan, which needs to be approved by the Ministry of Forestry (MINFOF). Exploitation of fauna in CFs is also possible and it is defined by a management plan elaborated in collaboration with the administration in charge of fauna and forests (see article 95, of the Forest Law No 94). Fauna is locally managed by the ‘Zone d ‘Interet Cynegetique à gestion communautaire’ (ZICGC) in the non-permanent zone.

Currently, there are 8 CFs officially established in the Cameroonian side of the TNS, but ROSE indicated a total of 15 CFs considering the ones that are in different stages of development. Community Forests have multiplied since 2000, as well as reserves and forest concessions (see Figure 3). 

Figure 3. Development of Community Forests in the Cameroonian side of the TNS Landscape


Map 2000

Map 2006

Map 2010

Source: GeoBIEP Web Atlas (consulted 2011)

Four CFs out of the pool of CFs in the Cameroonian side of the TNS landscape were selected for the project and comprise the unit of analysis for the baseline assessment. These four CFs had to be representative enough to allow an extrapolation of the results for the rest of the Cameroonian side of the TNS landscape. Hence, five criteria were used to select the sites:

  • Location: the CF has to be located within the geographical boundaries of the TNS landscape (as requested by PACEBco)
  • State of activity: the CF has to be functioning
  • Size and diversity of the community of villages managing the CF: the population managing the CF has to be diverse and involve several social and ethnic groups
  • Distance from urban areas: distance to the urban centre (Yokadouma) needs to vary
  • Accessibility: the CF needs to be of easy access by road 

The four CFs selected for the study are located in two road axes linked to the administrative centre Yokadouma (see Figure 4). The four CFs cluster a total of twelve villages, eleven of which are in the West-East road axis linking Yokadouma with Mboy II, which is a village located at the border with Central Africa Republic. Table 4 provides a short description of each one of the selected CFs.

The villages that manage the four CFs are located along the West-East and North-South road axes that intersect in Yokadouma. The villages visited and engaged in the participatory methods are (see Figure 5):

  • Moby II – 53 km from Yokadouma
  • Massiembo – 43 km
  • Mang – 40 km
  • Bompelo – 38 km
  • Djalobekoe – 7 km
  • Mendoungue – 6 km

 The villages visited for the surveys are:

  • Mboy II – 53 km from Yokadouma
  • Nampella – 30 km
  • Djalobekoue – 7 km

The history of village settlement and development is closely related to the road axes. On the Yokadouma-Mboy road axis, the settlement of villages relates to migration waves of the 1920s, during the German colonial time. The Mpiemo is an ethnic group coming from Central Africa Republic that first settled in this site and created the village of Mboy. For some villagers this migration was driven by tribal wars, while for others it was motivated by the interest to move closer to the German settlements in the locality (Yokadouma was at that time a German base). After crossing the Sangha River, some Mpiemo people settled down and established Mboy, while others continued the journey until settling and creating the villages of Mang, Massiembo and Bompelo 15 km away from Mboy. Years later, in the 1950s, a small group of Mpiemo left Mboy to be closer to Yokadouma and created the village of Djalobekoe. Some years before the Independence of Cameroon in 1960, Baka groups joined these villages, though their relative proportion in the villages varies. With time, other ethnic groups have joined the villages through marriage ties. For example, Muslim groups arrived in the mid-1970s and since then they have continued to grow in number. Central Africans have also been migrating to this area since 2000, mainly through marriage ties but also in the search of new life opportunities.

In the Youkadouma-Moloundou Axis, the villages have a different history. Mendoungue, the only village in this axis that is considered for the baseline assessment, was also created during the German colonial period. The village was first occupied by Poupong people. A person called Zaolo from Poupong origin coming from what is today the Republic of Congo arrived to the site with a German called Haugman. While Haugman settled in the surroundings of Yokadouma, Zaolo stayed in what became later on the village of Mendoungue.

The main natural resources of importance to the local people are rivers, primary forests, secondary forests, swamps and fallow. The Community Forests managed by the villages consists of both primary and secondary forest. Both types of forest are used for hunting (e.g. hare, deer, wild boar, porcupine, palm rat, hedgehog, gorilla), fishing and collection of NTFPs (e.g. Koko, wild mango, Djanssang), as well as logging. Secondary forests are also used for growing cash crops, such as cocoa, some coffee and NTFPs (e.g. Andok, Koko, Djanssang) and subsistence crops such as maize, cassava, and plantain. In some cases, the rivers close to the villages serve as the boundaries demaCARting the land belonging to each clan and are used for shrimp collection and fishing. Various types of property rights and recognition could be seen within the Forest Community and the surrounding communal areas, from individual to household, clan and village level. In general, village chiefs will just validate an arrangement already set between the newcomer and a head of household. There is no open access resource in the area, permission to use land and other natural resources should be requested in all cases.