Worldwide, the forest is known to be of critical importance for habitats in terms of their biological diversity and ecological functions. The ecosystems regulate the climate, restructure the weather pattern and hydrological cycle and protect the very important top soils by retaining the vegetation and controlling water flow. However, in Cameroon unsustainable exploitation of natural resources and poor agricultural practices both result in biodiversity loss, and environmental degradation. One of the factors behind these practices is poverty and ignorance of local populations on existing national land and forest policies, weak law enforcement and more importantly, the absence of viable alternative sources of livelihood for the locals. We equally have the inability of communities to enforce customary rules that favor rational resources management. Yet another is the lack of recognition of customary tenure rights in forest management. Biodiversity has also come under tremendous pressure due to the control over and access to resources. Communities are either been evicted from protected areas or face the threat of losing their livelihoods in favor of conservation of biodiversity and wildlife. The restrictive policy puts a bar on people’s customary and basic rights, thereby affecting local livelihoods.
ECoDAs makes use of a biodiversity and livelihood approach exploring the involving local communities in the management of protected areas. We strive to bring a balance in conservation and livelihood goals in policy and practice. Keeping in mind the ecological, economical and social wellbeing of the communities, ECoDAs carries out activities such as Collaborative Forest Management, nursery development, afforestation, agroforestry, social forestry, and habitat restoration.
The Pro-people approach of ECoDAs signifies that people are the best managers and stewards of the resources, a critical factor that makes significant. Through this approach, ECoDAs champions the formation, strengthening and sustenance of people’s institutions such as the Village Forest Management Committees (VFMCs), Cluster Platforms, Village Wildlife and Hunter Groups, and Conservation Cooperatives. ECoDAs has also been engaged in dissemination of forest policies and legislation; anti-poaching strategies and campaigns on bush meat trade; community forest development and Non Timber Forest Products (NTFPs) domestication; and provisions of viable alternative enterprises to hunting and other unhealthy forest uses.