USF St. Petersburg campus Faculty Publications


Rural Community Agency in Cameroon: Interactions with Forest Policies and the REDD+ Climate Change Regime

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Richard S. Mbatu

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Community forestry around the world has demonstrated its potential for implementing the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) climate change program. Secure tenure rights and access to rule-making are known as contributing to successful community forestry outcomes. Still, the effects of different aspects of rural ‘community agency’ are not well established. We investigate forest governance and conflicts and the relationships between aspects of rural community agency under the REDD+ climate change program in two forest communities—the villages of Fabe and Mosongiseli—near the southern portion of the Korup National Park in Cameroon. Using data from a survey instrument and interviews, we analyze, using “agency theory”, the concept of rural community agency according to dimensions of attitudes, understandings, and empowerment in the two communities in relation to forest governance and conflicts under REDD+. Our findings indicate a variety of power relations (e.g., on the communities’ use and management rights of their lands) and existential threats of conflicts within the communities (e.g., violation of the communities’ free, prior, and informed consent). The results also show that both communities share many of the patterns of diversity and integration to a similar extent. Although there is no definitive distinction between the two communities, the findings suggest that some differences exist in their degree of integration. Understanding and describing the nature of the power relations and threats of conflicts comprises an important component to begin an appreciation for the communities’ user group characteristics as these relate to the REDD+ program when implemented. The implication of this study is that threats of conflicts may increase when the villagers’ perception of the potential costs of losing their lands to REDD+ is formed by their experiences with current restrictions on the use and management rights of their lands.





Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.