Accepted paper:

Forest peoples and Extreme Citizen Science in Cameroon


Simon Hoyte (University College London)
Jerome Lewis (University College London)

Paper short abstract:

The development of co-designed smartphone applications is being implemented in collaboration with Baka hunter-gatherers and Bantu farmers in Cameroon, empowering forest communities to report wildlife crime and animal movements through community-led citizen science built on local knowledge systems

Paper long abstract:

Animal species of the Congo Basin are facing extinction as a result of deforestation and the illegal wildlife trade. Sharing the rainforest with these species are forest people. Indigenous Baka hunter-gatherers have occupied the forests of south-eastern Cameroon for many thousands of years but have been forcibly evicted from their ancestral lands to roadsides, providing space for people-free conservation areas and extractive industries. Many Baka groups feel a great sense of injustice towards outsiders pillaging forest resources whilst they themselves are severely restricted from using of the forest for ritual, medicinal, and subsistence activities. Communities express a desire to be involved in tackling such activity, a lack of empowerment and appropriate tools cited as the greatest barrier. The data collection platform Sapelli, developed by the Extreme Citizen Science group (ExCiteS), is being implemented in collaboration with Baka and farmer communities using rugged smartphones to support local reporting of wildlife crime and mapping of important animal habitats. Sapelli utilises a community-led, co-design methodology, promoting the integration of local knowledge systems, and aims to enable anyone, regardless of literacy level or technological ability, to be involved. Addressing power imbalances and building trust is centred on providing the space and time necessary for communities to decide on the nature of their involvement, and potential benefits and risks. An average of 18 reports are received per week demonstrating that a citizen science approach for data collection can offer a sorely-needed alternative to conservation methodologies that exclude local people and fail to protect wildlife

panel D04
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