What organization do you work with and what do you do? I am president of Cameroon Environmental Watch (CEW), a Cameroonian based NGO founded in 1997 and Global Forest Watch partner. In the past I developed a partnership with organizations like the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA, London) to campaign against poaching and with Friends of the Earth International (Netherlands) to fight illegal logging. I coordinated the 1996 Friends of the Earth report “Illegal Logging and Timber Trade in Cameroon: Background and Consequences,” one of the first reports on illegal logging in Cameroon. I am also a professor of Geography and Sustainable Development at University of Yaounde 1. How did you find out about GFW? My first exposure to Global Forest Watch was when officials from World Resources Institute visited the CEW office in the 1990s. As we had a similar missions—reflected by the “Watch” in both of our organizations’ names—we started sharing our various experiences and ultimately decided to sign a collaboration agreement. Through that collaboration, CEW helped found GFW-Cameroon. As the first technical partner of GFW in Cameroon, CEW hosted the very first GIS Laboratory in-country. In 2000, CEW contributed the publication of the first baseline forest document of Cameroon entitled “An overview of logging in Cameroon” and also contributed to the initiative of interactive forest atlas.
How did you become interested in forests? I worked for the Cameroon Department of Wildlife and National Parks (under the Ministry of Tourism) in the 1980s and coordinated the Korup project, which aimed to link the conservation of a tropical rainforest park to the rural development of the surrounding areas.
What area do you work in? I’m a physical geographer by training (I have a PhD in geography), but I gained my first practical experience in environmental protection when I participated in an international Visitor Program in the U.S. in 1991. The theme was “environmental protection efforts in the USA” and I visited nine different states to learn about various protection and conservation efforts. How does GFW fit into your work? Since helping to found Global Forest Watch Cameroon in the 1990s, CEW has been monitoring illegal logging and illegal practices in the forest domain. We develop capacities to use GIS and contributed to the creation of the interactive Forest Atlas of Cameroon. Did you find anything surprising with the data? Not surprising per se, but the ability to play with a long series of data and compare over many years is valuable.