This impact story was originally published by HCV Network here.
This HCV Screening focused on the municipality of Mbangassina, Cameroon located within the Grand Mbam landscape, about 120 km north of Yaoundé.
The municipality has a total area of 80,600 hectares containing 19 villages. The municipality is located at the frontier of two key ecosystems, a forest ecosystem and a savannah ecosystem.
Permanent rivers and streams in this landscape are essential sources of drinking water and as fishing grounds, thereby sustaining rural livelihoods. Subsistence agriculture is widely practised in the area and rural populations rely heavily on existing forest resources for survival.
Mbangassina is a predominantly agricultural community with cocoa production being their principal occupation accounting for more than 70% of household incomes. Unfortunately, the Cameroonian cocoa sector has become characterized by poor quality, low yields leading to a decrease in farmer incomes. As such, many farmers expand their land into forest areas, leading to increased forest degradation.
The goal of the screening was to identify potential areas of high conservation value (HCV) in the landscape. After establishing the HCV areas, potential threats to those areas were mapped out. By combining the probability of HCV presence and threat levels, priorities could be identified regarding next steps for the development of a land use plan.
The results of this screening exercise can inform the development of a land use and management plan for the area with the overarching goal to:
- Conserve and restore forests that have been degraded by human activities;
- Help the sustainable intensification and diversification of income; and
- Engage and empower cocoa-growing communities.
The work involved
The Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH) and the World Wild Fund (WWF) co-created the “Green Commodity Landscape Program” (GCLP) in order to bring together key cocoa stakeholders to co-design and jointly implement actions that help protect forests, improve sustainable production of cocoa and enhance the livelihoods of farmers and surrounding communities.
In the framework for the GCLP and through the Proforest Production Landscape Programme (PLP), supported by the Forest, Governance, Markets and Climate Programme of UKAid , Proforest was commissioned to do an HCV Screening of the Municipality of Mbangassina. The screening was primarily based on a review of secondary literature, a land cover classification conducted by Satelligence, and consultation of local and national stakeholders.
To allow for the consideration of environmental and social values which extend beyond the administrative boundaries of the study area, a 5km buffer zone surrounding the municipality was included in the screening area. Including the wider landscape allows to better frame potential management and monitoring actions that would include multiple stakeholders and entities across the jurisdiction borders and allow for a better and more holistic approach.
A set of indicators to determine probability of each HCV criterion was prepared. For each criterion, an HCV probability map was developed based on the presence of the relevant indicators and available information. An overall HCV probability map was then derived by overlaying the different criteria maps.
The results of the screening indicate that most likely all HCVs except HCV 2 are present in the study area. Local stakeholders as well as literature sources point towards the presence of several RTE fauna and flora species in the study area. It is not known to what extent these species’ populations well-established enough, and thus potentially significant, to merit HCV 1 status. Fauna surveys should be carried out to further investigate this.
The threats that are potentially relevant in the study area were based on information from secondary literature, information from stakeholders, and expert knowledge from the HCV Screening Team.
The following 5 threats were identified that might potentially impact HCVs within the study area:
- Housing and settlement expansion
- Agriculture expansion by smallholders’ farming
- Natural resource depletion through unsustainable hunting, logging and/or NTFP collection
- Climate change & severe weather events
It was determined that agriculture expansion by smallholders’ farming was likely to be a severe threat to remaining forest and savannah ecosystems. Pollution is also likely to be severe in water ecosystems, but more detailed field assessment or water quality control would be needed, to confirm this.
The land cover classification prepared by Satelligence mapped out different habitats and ecosystems. Unfortunately, after communities’ consultations, stakeholders pointed out that the land cover classification presented some inaccuracies, and many cocoa farms were being classified as forest. This means that there is probably much less high-quality forest left in the area than expected.
Although the current assessment provides indications on the presence of certain HCVs within the municipality, more detailed field surveys on the fauna and flora, as well as on the social values that are present in the area, should be carried out. Detailed site-level HCV assessments of the area should be carried out to confirm the presence or absence of all HCV values, and to identify their exact location.
Due to the lack of accurate land cover classification and limited scope of the assessment, the following fieldwork and mapping exercises will need to be conducted:
- Fieldwork and participatory mapping exercises should be conducted to identify the exact locations of HCV 6 areas and to establish exact location and conditions of riparian forests in the area.
- Further ground-truthing of the land cover map is essential to ensure that the product can be effectively used for developing a land use plan for the area and inform the location of potential conservation areas.
- Fauna surveys should be carried out to further investigate claims of rare, threatened or endangered species.
In order to support the land use planning process aligned with the GCLP initiative and Cameroon national orientations for or the planning and sustainable development of the territory, Proforest is currently looking at opportunities for a more detailed HCV-HCS assessment of one of the priority areas identified in the Municipality following this HCV screening.
To learn more about this case study and other Proforest HCV-HCS work at landscape level, HCV screening and learning opportunities, or to collaborate with the HCVN Secretariat, contact firstname.lastname@example.org