Indigenous Peoples and Natural Resources Management | WWF South Africa

Indigenous Peoples and Natural Resources Management



Cameroon, like most other countries in Central Africa, is home to a large community of indigenous peoples who have revered and treasured the lands they live upon for centuries. The Baka are found in the southern and eastern regions of Cameroon, the Bagyeli and Bakola in the southern region, the Bedzand in the centre region and the Mbororos scattered in the northwest, southwest and northern regions.

The forest indigenous groups, like the Baka and the Bagyeli, feed traditionally on what the living forests can produce and offer. They pick fruits, hunt and build their homes from materials from the forest while worshipping nature, which embodies the spirit of living in harmony with nature. 

In recent times, however, the nomadic way of life of Cameroon’s indigenous communities has evolved to become semi-nomadic and sedentary. The conditions for their traditional ways of living have changed radically. New groups of people have moved into the areas, bringing with them different lifestyles and methods of utilization of resources.

The changing economy of the state and the pressures on natural resources—due to global demand for raw materials, such as timber, metals and agricultural land soars—have seen an emergence of new pressures and threats. The use of natural resources is no longer sustainable, and this has, in many ways, been devastating to the rainforests and its inhabitants. Also underway are gradual social changes—the relation with other social groups, the urban way of life—which are affecting the way of life of these communities. The Baka, for instance, though long marginalized in Cameroon, are now finding themselves being manipulated by other social groups that lure them to act as poachers or to engage in other criminal activities. 

The Mbororos, on the other hand, are grazers constantly migrating to different regions of the country because of conflicts between their grazing style and conservation efforts. Bringing these communities on board to ensure they are part of an integrated conservation and development nexus is of utmost importance to the work of WWF Cameroon. We firmly believe there can be no conservation without people, and conservation is key for the health and well-being of people and communities.

WWF's principles with indigenous peoples recognize the critical role these people can play in the sustainable management of natural resources. Our focus and priority is to continually work towards protecting and promoting indigenous peoples’ rights through conservation.
Working with people is at the heart of everything we do.

In Cameroon, we aim to help empower indigenous communities to participate in important processes related to the management of, revenue from and development of the lands they have lived upon for years.  We are currently working with ten Baka communities in the TNS and TRIDOM landscapes and one Mbororo community in the Bakossi landscape, strengthening their participation in decision-making, access to education and natural resources and relationship with nature.

These initiatives are aimed at promoting their integration into the wider Cameroonian society and contributing toward their ambition to become leading agents for conservation and sustainable economic development. WWF’s Social Policies can be consulted at (https://sites.google.com/a/wwf.panda.org/social-development/home/policies/policies).
 
	© Ernest Sumelong/WWF
Indigenous people are good craftsmen and women
© Ernest Sumelong/WWF
 
	© Ernest Sumelong/WWF
Indigenous People are very hospitable. Offering gifts to guests is their passion
© Ernest Sumelong/WWF
 
	© Janet Mukoko/WWF
Kids have also been sensitized on the importance of sustainable management of natural resources
© Janet Mukoko/WWF
 
	© Janet Mukoko/WWF
WWF Staff in hospitality with an elderly mother, Bakossi Landscape Cameroon
© Janet Mukoko/WWF