“We are going to live like birds… without a place to put our feet” – The growing pressures on forests and indigenous people in Cameroon

Jeanne Noah, a Bagyeli leader from Cameroon, relates how her community’s ancestral forest is threatened by a large scale rubber production project. On top of this, Jeanne explains, neighbouring Bantu communities claim as their own the little forest area which is not already under the company’s control. As the Bagyeli’s access to the forest, their home and sustenance, is increasingly compromised, she wonders “what are we going to do to live? And how is our children’s future going to be like?”.

Sadly, this case depicts the alarming reality of most indigenous peoples in Congo Basin forests. In most cases, the rights of indigenous peoples to lands and resources are not enforced or even recognised, in contradiction with international law and standards. Displaced from their ancestral territories by agro-industrial plantations, mining and logging companies, facing constant discrimination from other communities, and abandoned by State, indigenous people like Jeanne face enormous difficulties to secure their rights and livelihoods.