cameroon: bagyeli mapping shows path to success
The negotiation process that took place during the early 2000s was successful in that the Indigenous Bagyeli were allowed to continue their traditional practices inside the national park. Although the Bagyeli continue to demand the right to return to their lands, this recognition of their rights to gather natural resources was an important development. It was in fact the first time that communities’ rights to use the land and resources within a national park were recognised in the whole Congo Basin.
Participatory mapping is also intended as a tool that can be strategically deployed to stop the conversion of forests into plantations. This mapping has a high potential for influencing national governments. This tool has been adopted in other countries in the Congo Basin (DRC, Republic of Congo, Gabon and the Central African Republic), and other parts of Cameroon. It is also being used to map communities’ rights with respect to mining concessions, and industrial farms).
There is also an ongoing advocacy effort aimed at formalising participatory mapping as a legal tool for recognising and protecting communities’ rights.
“If you do not collect fruits, you cannot have soap; if you do not go fishing, you cannot eat salt; if you do not cultivate plantains to sell you cannot buy clothes. I am dirty and without clothes because I do not do anything. I have already been forbidden from entering the forest.”
Indigenous Bagyeli person, Cameroon