Apes, crops and communities: land concessions and conservation in Cameroon

July 2019
IIED Briefing (Michelle Sonkoue & Samuel Nguiffo)

Cameroon’s current land law appears to have two conflicting objectives: to attract investors through large-scale land concessions; while protecting biodiversity, defending local people’s rights and promoting rural development. But the legislation governing large-scale land-based investments is outdated and sometimes incoherent. The land allocation process is investor driven and does not appropriately balance economic, social or environmental considerations. Overlaps between the habitats of great apes, community lands and recently established agro-industries pose a threat to conservation efforts and community livelihoods. Based on recent research, this article suggests land law reforms that the government of Cameroon could implement to effectively address these issues, including revising the concession allocation process so that relevant public authorities and local communities are involved and using Environmental and Social Impact Assessments to better inform decisions.