Forest livelihoods in Southwest Province, Cameroon : an evaluation of the Korup experience
This is a study of the social and economic characteristics of the people living around the southern end of the Korup National Park, an area of 125,000 ha of tropical rainforest in Cameroon's Southwest Province. It seeks to clarify how the use of forest resources relates to people's livelihood strategies. One of the main aims and underlying themes of this thesis is to show that the inhabitants of the Korup forest area are not isolated groups of socially homogeneous forest-dwelling people. Instead they largely consist of cosmopolitan and dynamic people with contrasting livelihood strategies, who form an integral part of the regional economy. The first part of the thesis sets the context by highlighting the historical, geographical, political and institutional features of the Korup forest area, which have important implications for forest use. It describes the range of settlements that I chose as my primary research sites and which I consider to be representative of the major variations in forest conditions and market access found in the southern Korup forest area. Within these settlements I selected a smaller sample of individuals and households for more detailed study, and each sample was chosen to include men and women of different ethnic backgrounds, marital statuses, and age brackets. In the chapters that follow I provide a detailed analysis of the economy of the Korup forest area. In the last part of the thesis, I describe the experience of the Korup Project, an internationally funded programme which aims to conserve and develop the Korup National Park. I evaluate the Korup Project experience against the findings of my study regarding rural livelihoods and economic and socio-political realities of everyday life in the Korup forest area.