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Vulnerability, forest-related sectors and climate change adaptation in Cameroon

Submitted by Emilia Pramova 30th August 2012 8:33


Wildlife in the Cameroonian forests. Photo by Terry Sunderland/CIFOR.

In Cameroon and elsewhere in the Congo Basin, the majority of rural households and a large proportion of urban households depend on plant and animal products from the forests to meet their nutritional, energy, cultural and medicinal needs. Climate change and other pressures are influencing the provisioning of forest ecosystem goods and services, with subsequent negative effects on the economic and social well-being of the society, including the national economy and the livelihoods of forest-dependent people.

Research under the Congo Basin Forest and Climate Change Adaptation project (CoFCCA), funded by IDRC and DFID, focused on four vulnerable forest-dependent sectors - food (NTFPs), energy (fuelwood), health (medicinal plants) and water (freshwater) - through a multi-stakeholder dialog at national and regional levels.

The linkages between forests and different sectors and the vulnerability feedback loops underline the need of multidisciplinary and multi-institutional response to face climate change. Collaboration between sectors and institutions needs to be promoted at different scales. Vulnerability to climate impacts in the forest sector is quite related to the vulnerability of other sectors, for example, agriculture.

When climate shocks hit agricultural production for example, people seek alternatives to conventional food products from the forests. Coupled with an increasing pressure on the forest for conversion to agricultural lands, these actions can influence the adaptive capacity of the ecosystem negatively. The ability of the forest to accommodate climate variability diminishes, which will make the forest unable to cope with climate variations of small magnitude. This will threaten the provision of forest goods and services on which people depend, increasing their vulnerability even further.

Local and national adaptive capacities to respond to climate impacts in the forest sectors can already be identified. These include: reducing poverty, enhancing food security, water availability, combating land degradation and reducing loss of biological diversity.

For more information, please contact Denis Sonwa.