Canadian Journal of Tropical Geography Revue Canadienne de Géographie Tropicale

Meli Reeves, Meli Meli, Vivien
Reserves are vital tools for biodiversity conservation and management. Cameroon adopted this strategy since colonial era and the creation of new forest and wildlife reserves is on the increase. The Santchou Wildlife Reserve in the Menoua Divison is one amongst the many threaten protected areas of the division where some principal protected fauna like dwarf elephants and dwarf buffaloes have virtually disappeared because of human interferences and many other factors, including endemic birds
more » ... endemic birds which are currently being threatened. This study makes an assessment of forest cover changes using remotely sensed Landsat images, land use dynamic degree indexes and socio-economic data from field survey to quantify land cover changes and drivers of such changes. Forest cover was classified as montane forest, degraded montane forest, semi-deciduous lowland forest and degraded lowland forest. Market-oriented agriculture based on cocoa-coffee and anthropization of the reserve are the main driving causes of forest cover change, as cultivated land accounted for up to 43.02% of land cover/use change. Forest cover losses in 1987 and 2013 were recorded accordingly as: 12.90%, 6.3%, 10.42%, 7.33% of both montane and lowland forests, to the profit of cultivated land and built-up area respectively. Built-up area accounted for 38.09% of land cover/use change. But however, montane forest can regrow by 39.93% from a combined regrowth of degraded montane forest and abandoned farmlands, while lowland forest can sprout to 45.88% from a combined regrowth of degraded lowland forest and abandoned farmlands if arresting factors are eliminated in this secondary plant succession process. The study recommends an enforcement of laws in protection and management of the reserve in order to avert forest cover change and the destruction of wildlife habitats and a reintroduction of the pioneer fauna species; dwarf elephants and dwarf buffaloes. Sacred forests also seems to be better working as protected areas than state carved ones due to their local recognition.