Ecosystems Services and Local Communities Dependencies in the Belabo-Diang Forest Reserve for Inclusive Solution for its Conservation and Sustainable Management

8 Jun 2021 Belabo-Diang Forest Reserve, Cameroon, Africa Biodiversity | Communities | Forests

Guylène Ngoukwa

Tropical forests are valuable reserves for local populations. They play a vital and well-known role because of the Ecosystem Services (ES) they provide. These services include timber production, non-timber forest products (Ngansop et al., 2019), carbon storage (Zekeng et al., 2020; Ntonmen et al., 2020), and other ES. The reliance on these ES makes human beings dependent on their subsistence's immediate ecosystems (Hong and Saizen 2019). Therefore, the ever-increasing need for wood products and subsistence agriculture for local communities is the consequence of the increasing anthropogenic pressure on Cameroon's forest resources (Nfornkah et al., 2018; Zekeng et al., 2019).

The benefits gained from ecosystems by the community are sometimes ignored, wrongly understood, perceived, or perceived differently, as is the case in the Belabo-Diang Forest Reserve (BDFR). The BDFR share is limited to two councils (i.e., Belabo and Diang Councils), highlighting the local communities pressure that it can receive. Indeed, local communities have unsustainable ES use in this study forests, leading to ecological problems such as fragmentation (Anonymous, 2015). In any case, it is broadly perceived that serious reliance on forest resources causes degradation that may prompt a decrease in the provisioning services and degradation of this study forest reserves (Anonymous, 2015). Therefore, no study has attempted to examine the factors affecting people's dependence on forests or their attitudes towards forest management or conservation. On the other hand, several studies have revealed that educated people and needy people valued forest ES more, albeit sometimes in different ways (Sodhi et al., 2010; Ouko et al., 2018). Therefore, it is clear that conservation and sustainable management strategies are unlikely to succeed in the long term if local communities' natural resource needs are not quantified and integrated into relevant policies, hence, highlighting the importance of this study.

This project aims:

- to investigate forest ecosystems services used by local communities living around the BDFR;

- to analyze the socio-economic factors explaining the variations in the identification of ecosystem services and the determinant factors predicting the dependencies of local communities in the BDFR;

- to analyze the levels of participation of local communities on forest management and conservation activities in the BDFR;

- identify possible strategies to reduce the local communities forest dependencies towards forest ecosystems;

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