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Research Article

The implications of wood exploitation for fish smoking on mangrove ecosystem conservation in the South West Province, Cameroon [ pages 222-241 ]

Njisuh Zebedee Feka1 and Mario G. Manzano2
    1 Regional Centre for Development and Conservation, P.O box 669, Limbe, South West Province, Cameroon
    2 Centre for Environmental Quality (CEQ), Tecnologico de Monterrey (ITESM), Monterrey, N.L. Mexico 64849

In this study we investigated how the use of mangrove wood for fish smoking by local people in some localities of the South West (SW) Province of Cameroon may be in conflict with the conservation and sustainability of mangrove ecosystems. With the use of socio-economic surveys, from February to July 2006, we established that the amount of the annual fuel-wood harvest for five study sites was about 102,650 m3 (i.e., an amount equivalent to clearing about 205.3 ha of mangrove forests annually). It is estimated that approximately 62% of this total is used to smoke most of the fish (i.e., about 90.7% of the fish landings) across the five study sites. The quantities of wood seemed to vary proportionately with fish landings across sites, hence indicating a probable direct correlation between mangrove wood harvested and its use in fish smoking. The different uses of mangrove wood were similar in all sites, but the quantities of wood extracted from different sites varied, with sites of high fish landings registering the highest fuel-wood turnover. It seemed that local people were unaware of the need to maintain ecosystem functions despite the close relationship between wood and fish harvesting, and their importance in ensuring the livelihood for local population in the study areas. From the revision of current management policies and field observations, we propose the development of adaptive management strategies aimed at improving policy, creating public awareness, and integrating local communities in the development of a sustainable management plan for the mangrove resources of Cameroon.

Key words: Cameroon, Fuel-wood, Fish, Fish Smoking, Livelihoods, Mangrove

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   Tropical Conservation Science is an open-access e-journal that publishes research relating to conservation of tropical forests and other tropical ecosystems.

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