Threat of Deforestation: Baka People’s Fight For Survival in Cameroon

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News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Nov. 29, 2013: The slaughtering of African trees depletes natural resources from the environment, degrades ecosystems and endangers wildlife. Wiping out the rain forests of Africa also threatens African inhabitants, and the Baka people are fighting for their lives. The Guardian sheds light on how the indigenous people of Cameroon are experiencing severe poverty and discrimination because of deforestation. With every tree that’s cut down and removed from the rain forest, the Baka way of life is one step closer to being destroyed.

Baka People Speak

“Africa is one of the poorest regions in the world,” explains the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), and “for every 28 trees that are cut down in Africa, only one is replanted.” Unfortunately, for the people living in Mayos in Southeast Cameroon, they’re fighting for survival because of destitution and deforestation. In the Guardian’s featured video “After The Forest: The Baka Fight For Survival,” Noel, a Baka spokesperson, shares that the Baka people are the guardians of the forest, yet it’s being taken away from them. The forest is their pharmacy and supermarket, a natural provider where all their needs are met. Hélène, the parents’ association president in Messoumé, says the Baka identity exists in the forest, and it gravely hurts to see trees cut down.

As guardians of the forest for years, the Baka people are left with nothing. Rain forest trees are being turned into wood to supply the world. For the people of Cameroon who believe they own the rights to the forest, this logging is an act of injustice. Every year logging eliminates 772 square miles of forest, according to the Guardian video. As the hearts of the Baka people (their glorious trees) bleed out of the transportation port Douala, people are left feeling defeated without the resources to fight back.

Papa N from Messoumé calls the people who come to spoil the trees “a menace.” The sound of sawing in the bush is like the sound of breaking hearts. Where there was once before so many trees, now there are none, says Papa N. Without elite Baka or representatives to fight for the cause, the Baka people’s rights are meaningless, and their voices remain unheard. The Guardian adds that “Illiteracy, unemployment, alcoholism and teenage pregnancy” continue to plague the people of Cameroon. Unless urgent action is taken to safeguard African land from logging, forests will decimate and the people who call the forest home directly feel the abuse.

Land Protection

AFW is dedicated to land conservation and supporting landscapes that provide economic opportunities. Africa’s deforestation rate is four times that of the world, according to AFW, and nearly 90 percent of original forests in West Africa have been eliminated. Along with human suffering, deforestation hurts environmental factors, such as soil erosion, water supply reduction, carbon release, climate change, and food insecurity. There’s still hope though for African regions. AFW’s commitment to land and habitat preservation includes the following solutions:

  • Establishing conservation reserves with governments and communities
  • Building relationships with communities to learn about their land and natural resources
  • Promoting Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+), a program that helps communities “‘sell’ the financial value of carbon stored in nearby forests”

Learn more about African conservation efforts by visiting AFW’s Land & Habitat Protection page online.