This article investigates how different actors and agents of forest change interact, and whether their interactions have an enhanced impact on forest management or on livelihoods of local villagers. Studies of forest cover change indicate that multiple agents and causes may speed deforestation. We disaggregate and interrogate the conventional polarization of local villagers versus external loggers and show how multiple actors interact in a dynamic context. We investigate these issues through studies of three villages in the Humid Forest Zone of Cameroon in Central Africa. We examine different actors' strategies in the face of external and internal pressures and stimuli. Economic crisis in Cameroon has impacted on local livelihoods as well as logging strategies of timber companies, and this has led to diverse alliances, conflicts, and outcomes. Our study shows that the combined action of local actors has synergistic or enhanced impacts in three ways. First, impacts are enhanced through accelerated extensification of cultivation in forest; second, through increased access to markets; and third, through increased migration to rural areas. These synergistic impacts are brought about by a number of mechanisms, of which the opening of new roads in forest areas is most important. A number of policy measures, including the effective enforcement of the legal mechanisms, clarification of property rights, and creation of spaces or platforms for negotiation between the different actors, are necessary to ameliorate the negative synergistic impacts of their interactions.
Brown, K.; Ekoko, F. Forest Encounters: Synergy Among Agents of Forest Change in Southern Cameroon. Society and Natural Resources (2001) 14 (4) 269-290. [DOI: 10.1080/08941920120269]