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Gorillas and Grandfathers: Baka hunter-gatherer conceptions of the forest and its protection, and the implementation of biocultural conservation through Extreme Citizen Science in the rainforests of Cameroon

Hoyte, Daniel Simon; (2024) Gorillas and Grandfathers: Baka hunter-gatherer conceptions of the forest and its protection, and the implementation of biocultural conservation through Extreme Citizen Science in the rainforests of Cameroon. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

South-eastern Cameroon is an area of high biocultural diversity, where gorillas, forest spirits, and people live side-by-side. Rapid degradation of this diversity is also a reality, a result of lying on a frontier of aggressive capitalist expansion and top-down conservation interventions. It is a zone of conflict where values, ontologies, priorities and identities clash, informing how the landscape is used and by whom. Whilst a range of actors work in managing these forests, some more sensitive to community needs and concerns than others, no one is genuinely engaging with forest communities to understand what conservation means to them and what their solutions are. Baka hunter-gatherers are at heart of this: forest managers do not consult the Baka and do not know how to engage with them. This problem-based thesis aims to transcend disciplinary boundaries to examine what values and conceptions are held by the Baka and other actors living in and managing the rainforest south of the Dja Biosphere Reserve in relation to the forest and its conservation, and presents the results of two projects which attempt to put biocultural conservation grounded in community values into practice. The work attempts this through firstly focusing on one Baka village – Kémà – endeavouring to understand the socio-ecological relationship between the Baka of Kémà and the forest through extensive ethnographic fieldwork. This subsequently grows into an exploration of what ‘protecting’ the forest means to such communities, and what conservation looks like through their eyes, relating this to concepts of biocultural conservation. Secondly, I expand this to those who manage the forest to gauge their values towards the forest and their vision of its conservation, comparing these to my findings in Kémà. And thirdly, building on biocultural approaches to conservation under the approach of ‘Extreme Citizen Science’, I describe and evaluate two participatory mapping and reporting projects I co-created alongside community members which demonstrate the possibility of building conservation initiatives led by communities themselves and founded upon such socio-ecological relationships and priorities as those that emerge throughout the thesis.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Gorillas and Grandfathers: Baka hunter-gatherer conceptions of the forest and its protection, and the implementation of biocultural conservation through Extreme Citizen Science in the rainforests of Cameroon
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2024. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
Keywords: Africa, Indigenous peoples, Forest, Conservation, Biodiversity, Technology, Citizen science
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Anthropology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Civil, Environ and Geomatic Eng
UCL
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10185848
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