Advocating for Participatory Forest Management in Cameroon

Simply defined as the systems in which communities and government services work together to protect and manage forest resources, participatory forest management has evolved as a key conservation technique that is being adopted by several African countries. TBA alumnus, Francis Mbunya, has since and even before attending the TBA course, advocated for this practice towards the conservation of forests in Cameroon.

As both a researcher and project implementer, Francis has led many projects which aim at improving local communities’ engagement in forest management. Most of the projects have been focused on the conservation of the Cross Rover gorilla in Cameroon. He has also participated in conducting several research projects focused on evaluating opportunities for sustainable forest management in Cameroon. Specifically, Francis has been looking at the role of traditional (local) institutions in moderating access to resources and in contributing to sustainable forest management as well as how stakeholder practices influence forest protection and management.

Francis credits TBA as playing a huge role in his conservation career.

My participation in the 2008 TBA course in Kibale, Uganda was a remarkable turning point in my career. Being able to socialize and share experiences with other young professionals from different countries deepened my views and knowledge on biodiversity conservation, which later enabled me to make the right decisions in my career.  The mentorship from TBA has also been tremendous. Being able to receive reference letters and mentorship from TBA coordinators enabled me to obtain a scholarship to study and complete my master and PhD degree in Belgium. Dr. Clive and Dr. Rosie have been there for me until this moment

With the growing efforts of Cameroon towards developing sound practices of participatory forest management beyond its theoretical approach, Francis’ activities have served as important steps especially towards raising the awareness of local communities and stakeholders to this technique.

Francis started and continues to run a non-profit organization in Cameroon which focuses on promoting environmental protection and sustainable development goals (Resource Centre for Environment and Sustainable Development – RCESD). Through this, his work is channeled through capacity building programs which train local communities on management of forests and their resources as well as other conservation and development measures.