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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:'First the Forest...': Conservation, 'Community' and 'Participation' in South-West Cameroon
Author:Sharpe, Barrie
Periodical:Africa: Journal of the International African Institute
Geographic term:Cameroon
Subjects:popular participation
Agriculture, Natural Resources and the Environment
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/1161146
Abstract:This article explores the relevance of concepts of community, participation and social capital to the analysis of local development processes, and in particular to the efforts by environmental agencies and NGOs involved in 'saving the rain forest' in Africa. It argues that much conservation thinking on 'participatory management' is based upon the notion of forest as a resource in the custody of local communities. Such a generalization is severely tested in South West Province of Cameroon. The article documents that there is considerable local debate about forest use and conservation, much of it among those excluded from the formal arena of politics and policymaking. Concern with 'the environment' includes concern about the perpetuation of society, and represents a clear continuation of West African village cosmologies focused on the societalization of space. At the same time, conservation aims of 'keeping the forest as it is' have few resonances, since forest people see society itself as an artful, but often problematic, construction in which the conversion of the forest plays a central part. In conclusion, the article suggests that the key to environmental management must be for external agencies to articulate with the interests and values of those who hold a legitimate stake in African forest resources. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. in English and French.