Forest Peoples Programme Supporting forest peoples’ rights

The rights of Baka communities in the REDD+ Ngoyla-Mintom project in Cameroon

Jake Willis, Messe Venant, Olinga Noel
21 March, 2016

Of the indigenous hunter gatherer peoples of Cameroon (the peoples who self-identify as ‘autochthonous’), the Baka are the largest group, numbering about 40,000 and living in an area of 75,000 km2 in the south-west of the country; the Bagyeli/Bokola are the second-largest group with approximately 3,700 people living near the coast in an area of about 12,000 km2; and the third-largest group are the Bedzang who live in the forests north-west of Mbam (Ngambe-Tikar), in the Central Region.

Cameroon is signatory to a number of international declarations which give explicit emphasis to the rights of indigenous peoples. Furthermore, one fundamental precondition to any REDD+ intervention is the inclusion of communities’ customary rights. Whether it be a REDD+ project, a conservation project, sales of standing volume or concessions, the project promoters and/or investors have to comply with the relevant international legal instruments applicable to Cameroon.

Over the years, however, many indigenous peoples have been largely excluded from their traditional forest resources and live in a state of extreme marginalisation along the roadside.

The aim of this evaluation, carried out by Forest Peoples Programme (FPP) and Association Okani, is to open up a space in which to reflect on respecting communities’ rights in the REDD+ processes and help generate a participative analysis of the impacts of the REDD+ Ngoyla-Mintom pilot project on these communities.