The effects of different gender harvesting practices on mangrove ecology and conservation in Cameroon
Feka, N.Z.; Manzano, M.G.; Dahdouh-Guebas, F. (2011). The effects of different gender harvesting practices on mangrove ecology and conservation in Cameroon. Int.J. Biodivers. Sci. Ecosys. Serv. Manag. 7(2): 108-121. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/21513732.2011.606429
In: International Journal of Biodiversity Science, Ecosystem Services & Management. Taylor & Francis: Abingdon, Oxfordshire UK. ISSN 2151-3732; e-ISSN 2151-3740, more
Wood harvesting is an important source of income and a direct threat to mangrove forests in West-Central Africa. To understand the effects of this activity on mangrove ecology, it is necessary to assess harvesting practices of local communities. Knowledge on those is scarce for this region; we therefore examined implications of gender roles on the sustainability of mangrove forests in the South West Region (SWR), Cameroon. Socio-economic surveys, focus group discussions and forest inventories were used for the assessments. Mangroves in the studied sites were dominated by Rhizophora racemosa. The Simpson's diversity index did not vary significantly between exploitation levels. The current harvesting style by women (compared with men) is characterised by a larger working area but closer to home and more seasonal, intensive harvesting of smaller trees. This enhances mangrove ecosystem degradation, whereby the effect is exacerbated because of the catalytic harvesting practices of men (less frequent, small scale, selective harvesting of larger trees). To help sustain mangroves in this region, further research on wood harvesting practices and implications for factors affecting growth is essential. To improve harvesting strategies, communities need to be provided with alternative sources of livelihood and educated on the values of mangroves and regeneration techniques.