Conservation of tropical forests is one of the most important aspects of the global issue of climate change and carbon sequestration. In Africa, 4-5 million hectares of tropical forests are destroyed every year. This represents more than half of all forest destruction in the world. In the Congo basin, the deforestation which mainly arises from the cutting of trees for the opening of new agricultural lands has rapidly increased. At the country level, the use of tropical rain forest resources is going to be controlled by zoning being related to RED+ and other relevant bodies concerned with emissions trading. However, the Congo basin has 60 million people engaged in hunter gathering and shifting “slash and burn” cultivation. The forests are therefore, used for resources other than timber. A forest conservation plan that can positively evaluate the potential value of Non Timber Forest Products (NTFPs) and leads the conservation of forests to the well-being of the local people is urgently required.
Tropical rain forests and surrounding areas are so far underdeveloped. In contrast, they have maintained a rich supply of natural resources. With the rise of the market based economy, although cocoa production in the forest regions has been increased, the production of cassava from the surrounding areas has been also rapidly expanding. In order to protect the forest against continuous expansion of agricultural lands, it is required to explore ways in which further intensification can be achieved sustainably, and ways in which higher productivity can contribute to the local economy.
This project aims at establishing resource management structures incorporating the customary rights and traditional world view of the native people by elucidating the ecology and true state of Non Timber Forest Products. At the same time we aim to manage the intensive production of cassava at the forest-savanna boundary, and find ways of processing and selling the surplus cassava, in a way that will benefit the local economy. This “practical research” assists in understanding special features of the soil and the flora, and also allows research into the social organization of the local people, with particular emphasis on women’s' labor.