A crash course in changing the world.
In Cameroon the Ministry of Environment and forests ( MINEF ) headed by Minister Elvis Ngole Ngole is maintaining sustainable management of Prunus africana in Mount Cameroon.
Prunus africana is a pan-africa montane tree species found through out the highlands of Cameroon.Mount Cameroon supports the most important population of Prunus in Africa. The back of Prunus is used locally for traditional medecine, and it is also the raw material for Plantecam - a phamaceutical company. An issue happened in 1995 when Prunus harvesting has become a major source of cash income for young men and their households in the area. However, harvesting in this context was mainly destructive and uncontrolled. Transactions with the illegal buyers was done at night, and they were frequent conflict and there were frequent conflicts within the villages, and between the villagers and the forestry services.
Mount Cameroon Project ( MCP ) designed a partnership between local communities, government, business for the sustainable harvesting of Prunus africana. MCP started by carrying out a desktop stakeholders analysis to identify all the stakeholders in the management of the resource, thus laying the ground work for a Prunus management forum. The concerns, fears, hopes and vision of all stakeholders were recorded separately. A conflict map was drawn up from which common grounds were identified. One common ground was that all parties recognised the need for sustainable harvesting of the resources. The perceptions were then presented to all stakeholders in a specially convened meeting. Today, the conflicts in the area have significantly deminished and harvesting is being done in an orderly and controlled manner, and income to the villages has significantly increased.
I have learnt alot from the Mount Cameroon Project's strategy in solving conflicts. One of the greatest lesson that have been learnt from this case study is the importance of supporting existing sustainable livelihoods based on forest resource use, instead of simply promoting alternative income generating activities ( IGAs ) designed to attract forest users away from unsustainable practices.