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The Dja
Biosphere Reserve
Forest Products
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Sisley Foundation


Established in 1950 by the colonial administration, the Dja Biosphere Reserve (DBR) covers 18% of Cameroon’s National Protected Areas network.

With its unique wealth, the reserve is home to many species: over 109 species of mammals (lowland gorillas, chimpanzees, forest elephant, etc.), 360 species of birds (white-necked rockfowl, African grey parrot, Dja river warbler, etc.), 62 species of fish and 207 species of trees such as Moabi (IUCN - VU).


Major issues


This conservation area suffers from ongoing degradation due to the increase in the rural population and overexploitation of natural resources (timber, charcoal, poaching, fishing, non-timber forest products for food and pharmacopoeia).

The constant pressure on natural resources results in loss of biodiversity, at the expense of the poorest rural communities that lead traditional lifestyle.

The Baka (Pygmies), have no longer access to many products from the forest, that they used to harvest, collect or hunt. Many activities are nowadays forbidden like: subsistence hunting, medicinal or food plant collect, or any other products from the forest that serve to build their houses or places of worship.



The project and the prospects for change


The project is working on products of the forest value chains, focusing on:

  • Mbalaka seeds (Pentaclethra macrophylla): The Baka Pygmies traditionnally collect and use the mbalaka seeds for food or as a medicinal plant. The mbalaka seeds are bought by the Bantu who then sell them to nigerian wholesalers, large consumers of NWFP. Furthermore, Mbalaka oil hold interesting cosmetics properties that can attract the western oil seed industry.
  • Bush Mango almonds (Irvingia gabonensis) are sold for food on local markets and to nigerian wholesalers. , they are the main ingredient of a traditionnal sauce in Cameroon and Nigeria called N’do.
  • Moabi almonds (Baillonella toxisperma) : oil-rich, the Moabi almonds are traditionnally used in central Africa for food and cosmetics . In addition to that, Moabi is a tree sought after for its wood by the forestry industry for the international market. In the long run, the population can earn a revenue that can be much higher than the revenue earned by logging, that benefit mainly to forest industry.
  • Depending on demand and production, the project is also looking at other NTFPs: Allanblackia floribunda, Monodora myristica, Tetrapleura tetraptera

The generated revenues from collecting seeds are very important for women and their families. This activity can be a largest source of income ahead from the revenues from agriculture. However, the Baka women have a little access to the market of NTFPs, as they live deep inside the forest. Living nearest transportation paths, the Bantu women buy the products directly to the Baka women and resell them, recovering major part of the added value. The structuration of women’s groups including Baka women, and the improvement in the collect and drying methods, permits products flow and provides substantial revenues to the communities. 

By according to local population, the right to access natural resources, by framing agreed natural resources management systems, and by enhancing the economic value of local products, this project contributes to the conservation of Dja reserve and improve livelihood of local population.



Committed partners


The NGO AAFEBEN works in the eastern outskirts of the reserve with 10 community forests. It supports 10 groups comprising of 350 women from the Baka (Pygmies) and Bantu ethnic groups to collect and sell forest products such as bush mangoes and Moabi. It aims primarily to encourage women entrepreneurship projects with a strong component focusing on ethnic minorities.

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To learn more about this project and its 2018 key achievements, please click on this link.


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