Assoc. PhD Student
Local Perception of Climate Change, Natural Resources and Adaptation Strategies: the case of Mount Cameroon National Park, Cameroon
Climate change influences communities all over the world and is the object of a dominating global discourse. People everywhere, both in Global North and Global South are exposed to this threat. As climate change is projected to hit poor communities in the Global South hardest, it is particularly important for developing countries to pay attention to its impact on natural resources and people's livelihoods. Traditional ecological knowledge on how forest dependent households and communities, especially those in tropical areas, see, respond and adjust to climate change and events is useful in developing strategies to support climate change adaptation and policies. However, local perceptions of climate change remain largely unexplored and are subject to various interpretations.
The Mount Cameroon National Park (MCNP) occupies 58,178 hectares, and is rich in endemic fauna and flora. The park is surrounded by 41 villages. It is vital for the livelihoods of these communities and contributes to Cameroon's development.
The goal of this study is to analyse perceptions of indigenous people around the MCNP on climate change, management of natural resources and local livelihood strategies and to explain the basis upon which certain decisions are taken. Additionally, adaptation strategies to climate change by individuals and communities are to be examined. To achieve this objective, the study will examine local knowledge on climate change, compare it with scientific knowledge, and explore how individuals and communities perceive and adapt to climate variations. By underlining the place of traditional knowledge, the research will document and critically examine knowledge systems among agricultural communities of the MCNP region. Factors that influence adaptive behaviour and constraints will be identified and discussed. Finally, local significance of climate change, seasonality and consequent effects on livelihoods and natural resources will be explored.
Literature on climate change, local perception and coping strategies generally, and Cameroon specifically will be reviewed. Data will be collected empirically from eight villages, using the following methods: semi structured questionnaires, focus group discussions, individual and key informant interviews, field observations, historical diagram and SWOT analysis.
Climate change discourse at international and national level is embedded in political and economic motives, suspicion, distrust and power struggles. This hinders effective action as climate change policies are less responsive to local realities and actors are weak at engaging local actions. Based on theoretical approaches of political ecology, common property resource theory and the livelihood framework, the study alongside empirical findings will explain how at local scale, power relations, social and political issues are inherent to environmental changes. Also, political, economic and social frame conditions and changes such as globalisation, modernisation and commodification processes which shape control, use and access to common pool resources and lead to marginalisation, vulnerability and poverty will be assessed.
Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Matthias Schmidt, Universität Augsburg