Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 16, Issue 8, pp 2401–2427 | Cite as

Cocoa farms in the Mount Cameroon region: biological and cultural diversity in local livelihoods

  • Sarah A. Laird
  • Gabriel Leke Awung
  • Rita J. Lysinge
Original Paper


A study was undertaken around Mt Cameroon to examine the role of biological and cultural diversity in the livelihood strategies of indigenous villagers and migrants to the region. Surveys of resources consumed and sold by 118 households were undertaken in five villages over the course of 1 year, the perspectives and practices of cocoa farmers documented, and useful tree species retained or planted on six cocoa farms mapped. Cocoa farms in this region generate more significant benefits for biodiversity conservation and local livelihoods than commercial plantations, but also place pressure on forest reserves and require chemical inputs. Roughly 50 tree species are commonly retained or planted on cocoa farms, primarily for timber or food, with many of these having high conservation value. Average tree density of non-cocoa trees was 15 trees per hectare, with tree densities higher, and a larger percentage of species used, on indigenous Bomboko farms than migrant farms. Both migrant and indigenous households rely on forest as a complement to farm income, but indigenous households do this to a far greater extent, while also making extensive use of fallow and home gardens. Indigenous households also derive roughly four times the income from wild and native species compared to migrants. While diversified cocoa farms contribute to conservation and livelihoods in the region, indigenous livelihoods grow from and require the conservation of a broader range of species and habitats, including natural forest.


Biodiversity Cameroon Cocoa Cultural diversity Livelihoods Non-timber forest products 



This project benefited enormously from the contributions of its research team: Frida Engange, our dear late friend and research collaborator from Mapanja village; Ebile Adolf, Esuke Christina and Ebong Harrison from the Mount Cameroon Project-Buea; Maurice Betafor and Elias Ndive from the Limbe Botanic Garden; and Julius Ewange from Bova Bomboko. The final maps built on the work in Bova Bomboko by Ebong Harrison and the project team, and were created by Holly Porter Morgan and Brian Morgan, at The New York Botanical Garden. Kind support and assistance from the Mount Cameroon Project in Buea/GTZ, was provided by Jorge Linke and Eva Gonnermann. Sincere thanks to Goetz Schroth, Ruth Malleson, Emmanuel Nuesiri, Celia Harvey, and two anonymous reviewers for extremely helpful comments on earlier drafts of this paper, and to James Douglas for his invaluable assistance with data analysis and other support.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sarah A. Laird
    • 1
  • Gabriel Leke Awung
    • 2
  • Rita J. Lysinge
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity College London and People and Plants InternationalNyackUSA
  2. 2.Conservation Without FrontiersLimbeCameroon
  3. 3.Mt Cameroon ProjectLimbeCameroon
  4. 4.RiverdaleUSA

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