Central Africa Humid Tropics Transect sentinel landscape - Forests, Trees and Agroforestry

Central Africa Humid Tropics Transect sentinel landscape

The Nyon River in Cameroon, which used to produce many fish, has experienced drying up and silting since surrounding communities reoriented toward agriculture. Photo by O. Girard/CIFOR

The Central Africa Humid Tropics Transect sentinel landscape (CAFHUT) represents a dynamic socioecological gradient of forest and land use in the Congo Basin. Focused on Cameroon, the sites demonstrate a gradient where forest and tree-based livelihoods are and will become prevalent means of poverty alleviation.

These sites are where the pressures of urban development, population growth, forest commercialization and land-use transition are changing the face of the forest landscape at a rapid pace. In particular, the landscape features:

Mature humid dense forest to the southeast of the country where forest-dwelling men and women profit from hunting and the consumption and sale of a wealth of non-timber forest products.
Fragmented mosaics of primary and secondary forests impacted by (a) an extensive yet poorly understood informal timber market, (b) a 100-year-old logging industry which accounts for an average of 6% of the gross domestic product of many central African countries and (c) vast roads paving their way to logging and mining concessions in the heart of the Congo Basin.
Peri-urban areas where both primary and secondary forest fragments still exist, but where land use has been dominated by mixed smallholder agroforestry and intensified agricultural systems.
Zones where forest meets savannah and agricultural activities dominate, but where local inhabitants have begun to reap the rewards of cocoa agroforestry, slowly transforming deforested landscapes into productive and profitable tree-based livelihoods.

Mintom
Transition between mature old growth forest and logged-over forest, where there is a mixture of active forest concessions, recently allocated community forests and unallocated forest concessions.

Currently, the site hosts both production and virgin primary forest, but a vast road is being opened through this area, meaning that radical changes will be observed in a few years.

Activities include the opening of markets and the intensification of smallholder/community activities – including agriculture and agroforestry, hunting, informal logging and commercial activities.

Lomié-Kongo
Degraded mature forest, where concession and community forestry and timber exploitation are some of the principal activities influencing forest structure in the area.

In addition to this, other forest-related activities include hunting and the collection of some non-timber forest products.

Agriculture and agroforestry practices exist; however, access to markets is slightly more difficult, meaning that they have not been intensified.

A principal partner in the area would be the PALLISCO timber concession.

Ayos
The municipality of Ayos is situated 123 km from Yaoundé, the capital of Cameroon. Ayos’ vegetation is characterized by Galerian forests surrounded by swamp forests of raffia, and has a surface area is 1250 km2 with an estimated population of 22,899 inhabitants.

The entire population of this municipality depends directly on subsistence farming for their livelihoods with cocoa being one of the principal agricultural products. The zone falls in the forest margin landscape where agriculture and agroforestry products are the mainstay for a large proportion of the population, and agricultural practices are relatively mature (mostly cocoa, coffee and oil palm).

The presence of the Alternatives to Slash and Burn Programme (ASB) site from the World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF), with International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) as a partner, is an assurance for available information about the dynamics in the area.

The area is inhabited by growing rural communities with access to markets and comprises approximately 39 villages under two mains groups – YEBEKOLO-Est and OMVANG. Its geographical position provides an avenue for the flow of money which is reflected in the progressive investments in activities such as fishing, hunting, small-scale plantations (cocoa, oil palm, pineapple, etc.), and which supply local and neighboring markets in Abong Mbang to the east and from Awae toward Yaoundé in the west.

Bokito
Forest savannah or deforested landscape dynamics, where secondary forest is used for growing cash and subsistence agricultural and agroforestry crops.

All forest land has been allocated, so some have begun to successfully grow cocoa and oil palm in the savannah.

The site shows deforested landscapes, forest-savannah mosaics and successful reforestation efforts.

Good access by road, and a long-term Agricultural Research for Development (CIRAD) presence ensure links to local smallholders and some past data.

Land Degradation and Surveillance Framework (LDFS)
Three days’ training of 15 participants from ICRAF to expose them to the various methods and tools used in the characterization and mapping of ecosystems.

Field survey with Bokito (currently in Etiomolo), followed by Lomié.

In 2014/2015, two sentinel sites (Etiolomo and Ayos) were sampled – the main data collected per sentinel site included soil surface characterization; vegetation assessment and measurement; soil sampling; soil texture; visible soil erosion; soil infiltration capacity; land form and land cover classification; and woody cover.

In 2016, two additional sites were sampled.

Socioeconomic aspect
From 2013 to 2016, socioeconomic surveys were conducted in 38 villages in the CAFHUT sentinel landscape sites (Mintom, Bokito, Lomié and Ayos).

Villages were selected using criteria such as size, hospitality, accessibility and ethnic composition.

Data were collected using International Forestry Resources and Institutions (IFRI) survey tools (focus groups of 10-20 persons; key informants; leaders; implications for women were included as much as possible; and household surveys).

Census information was collected from local administrations and partners and random walks; key informants were also used.

A total of 936 households were surveyed (Mintom-138; Bokito-32; Lomié-202 and Ayos-272; this represents 30% of the total number of households per village).

Institutional mapping
Several exchanges with the methodology group.

Meeting in Yaoundé to ensure a common understanding of the survey tools.

Health
Field work initiated at Ayos and Bokito.

Some site visits were conducted to exchange views and information with health-related stakeholders (health personnel, traditional authorities, traditional health offers, etc.).

Information collected comprised distance to health centers; health personnel; plants and trees used for health treatments; household health situations, etc.

This was followed by discussions on the findings to develop methodological tools.

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