Resolving land-related conflicts through dialogue: Lessons from the outskirts of a protected area in Cameroon

Author(s)
Michelle Sonkoue, Romuald Ngono et Anna Bolin
Date published
Publisher

IIED

Material type

In Cameroon, land invested in for agriculture, natural resource extraction and infrastructure is often located in extremely biodiverse conservation areas with considerable human populations. In addition to the impact on biodiversity, the acquisition of such land often results in a loss of land use rights for local communities who depend on the land, without sufficient compensation or benefits. In order to survive, such communities often extend the scope of their activities to the protected areas in which they reside. This can lead to strained relations between communities, investors, authorities and local conservation agencies.

In this context, multi-stakeholder dialogue is often used as a conflict resolution strategy. This report sets out how such a dialogue process has been implemented in Cameroon, in the Dja Biosphere Reserve (South Region). The Reserve is home to numerous species of mammals, including great apes and elephants. The main stakeholders in this case study include the subsidiary of a multi-national rubber producer, nine of the local communities directly affected by its land concessions, and the Reserve’s conservation services.

The approach involves setting up a dialogue framework as a tool to incorporate local interests and priorities, and to prevent and resolve conflict. The report details this approach and explains how to prepare, design and successfully lead multi-stakeholder dialogue in order to reduce the negative impacts of land investments on biodiversity and communities. It uses practical experience as a basis on which to set out lessons learned, practical advice on how to replicate the process, and recommendations for legal reforms on largescale land sales.