Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Ingenious wood plantations by farmer in western-Cameroon.

Abstract

Development agencies involved in farm forestry often adopt paradigms on the lines of "most peasant farmers only consider short-term production; their traditional agro-forestry systems have not evolved or are being abandoned; all that can be done is to offer proven, simple or standardised techniques, including plantations of fast-growing exotic species to produce construction timbers". In fact, a study of sylvicultural practice in western Cameroon not only shows widely diverse attitudes towards trees, but also that peasant farmers who plant trees have developed ingenious ways of adapting their traditional systems and making use of external technologies according to their needs. For eucalyptus plantations, they have successfully adopted techniques used by rural development and research agencies, adding innovations of their own in the areas of nursery plant production, direct seeding, mixed cropping, coppicing and product diversification. Softwoods are encouraged by the State or by projects, but rarely planted by peasant farmers for lack of market outlets or practical uses of softwood products locally. Where the traditional hedge-and-field system is concerned, species that are no longer in current use are removed to make way for new species chosen in accordance with family or local needs and market opportunities. Another surprising finding is that some peasant farmers, unlike government projects, plant naturally occurring longrotation timber species in their hedges, such as Kosipo, Entandrophragma candollei. Furthermore, bush fires in State or municipal forests are met with almost universal indifference despite the efforts of their managers, which raises the question of whether credits to support reforestation in public lands would not be better employed to support private reforestation.