Tuesday, June 10, 2008

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Campo-Ma’an Forest

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The Campo-Ma'an rain forest in southern Cameroon covers approximately 770 000 ha of an area known as the Guineo Congolian Regional Centre of Endemism, a species rich area of rain forest with many species found no where else in the world. While the population density is quite low the area supports a host of economic activities, many of which threaten the area's ecosystems including logging, shifting agriculture and commercial agroforestry. These forces contribute to southern Cameroon's high rate of deforestation which is among the highest in central Africa.

It is the agro forestry area dominated by rubber and palm plantations that can be seen clearly in the center of the 2001 remote sensing image. In 1973, the forest appears as largely intact (Landsat 01 February 1973). By 2001 (Landsat 21 April 2001) the two plantations, roads and forested areas dominate the landscape.

Logging is permitted with concessions which span 30 management plans. Four zones or Forest Management Units (FMU) are located partially or wholly within the larger Campo-Ma'an area. In addition, the local agricultural practice is slash and burn or shifting agriculture which is a major cause of deforestation and forest degradation surrounding settlements and will increase in severity as population grows. In the center of the forest is the 61 333 ha. agroforestry zone.
Approximately two thirds of this area is covered by the HEVECAM rubber plantation. The remainder of the zone is the SOCAPALM palm plantation whose production facility produces roughly 26 000 tonnes of palm oil each year. These large scale agroindustrial operations have destroyed approximately 7.5 per cent of the areas forest cover.

Campo-Ma'an is an important focus of conservation efforts in Cameroon and in 2000 the Campo-Ma'an National Park was created to protect its diverse flora and fauna. The park covers 26 400 ha of diverse forests spanning from the Atlantic coast to roughly 100 km inland and was created in part as "compensation for environmental damage resulting from Exxon-Mobil's 1000 km Chad to Cameroon pipeline."
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