Introducing the CamForst project: Sustainable Forest Management in Cameroon

View of the Santchou Reserve ©J. Kimengsi

Accept greetings from Jude Kimengsi, Principal Investigator of the CamForst Project.

CamForst is a three-year collaborative research project titled: “Past customs, current law: Analyzing the Effects of Endogenous and Exogenous Institutions on Sustainable Forest Management in Cameroon”.  The project presents a justified starting point in the Congo Basin forest of Africa, of which a substantial part is located within the borders of Cameroon. It is poised to make a pertinent scientific contribution to the ever evolving field of natural resource governance. It specifically employs mixed-methods approaches to investigate conditions, under which both forms of institutions (endogenous and exogenous) shape the choices of community actors, with regards to forest resource use and management in the context of sub-Saharan Africa.

It builds on the premise that for the most part, exogenous (formal) institutions have been analyzed independently of endogenous (informal) ones, and vice versa. The lack of clarity on the conditions under which both institutions shape natural resource management processes and outcomes, has contributed to the present imbroglio that characterize natural resource management – inefficient state-led institutions and the breakdown of well working community based natural resource management regimes.

Participatory village mapping around the Bakossi Landscape © J. Molisa

Hosted by the TU-Dresden (Chair of Tropical Forestry), the project began in May 2020, and is sponsored by the German Research Foundation (DFG). It will be implemented in collaboration with the following international partners: The University of Bamenda (Cameroon), Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg (Germany), University of Bern (Switzerland), University of Copenhagen (Denmark), University of Cape Town (South Africa), and the University of Helsinki (Finland).

Map of Cameroon showing the three study sites ©CamForst

This study sites are located in Cameroon which hosts more than 30 protected areas (national parks and forest reserves), with over 250 ethnic groups having unique endogenous cultural institutions. The project will undertake a comparative study of three forest reserve areas – Bakossi (coastal zone), Santchou (transition zone), and Kilum-Ijim (humid montane zone) reserves in Cameroon.

View of the Bakossi Landscape © J. Molisa

Considering the sensitive nature of issues linked to embedded systems (endogenous cultural institutions), and the application of state-driven rules in forest management, the project will involve extensive and recurrent field visits to the study sites for data recording. The project provides a useful scientific base for the advancement of the governance and institutions discourse in forest and natural resource management, as a complementary field to forest socio-economics at the Institute. It is complemented by our ongoing Guest Edited Special Issue with the Journal Forest Policy and Economics on The governance of forests, forest products and markets: Multiscale linkages to conflict and development in sub-Saharan Africa” . Key outcomes (scientific results) will edify teaching at the TU-Dresden, and partner Universities. It sets a fruitful foundation for the development of more extensive collaborative projects to support doctoral researchers. 

Further details about the project are available at webpage of the Chair of Tropical Forestry. Within the framework of implementing the project, prospective junior researchers (MSc. Students) – both Cameroon and German based, will be sponsored to conduct research under selected themes. For details, please see here.

You are welcome to join the CamForst Team!

By Jude Kimengsi

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