Edited by David Pearce, Corin Pearce and Charles Palmer
Chapter 16: The economic value of Mount Cameroon: alternative land use options
Gil Yaron 1 INTRODUCTION This chapter presents the key ﬁndings of a DFID-funded study into the costs and beneﬁts of alternative land use options in forested lowland of the Mount Cameroon Region. The question of which land use brings the greatest net ﬁnancial and economic beneﬁts has direct relevance for local policy makers. The proposed privatization of the Cameroon Development Corporation (CamDev) raised the question of what to do with some 60000 ha. of leasehold land that was not currently utilized for industrial plantations. Much of this undeveloped land is forested and, as documented in a thorough environmental impact assessment (ERM, 1998), includes lowland forest that has exceptional levels of biodiversity. The competing uses for forested land in this area are small-scale agriculture undertaken increasingly by migrants to the area or industrial plantation crops. While this is a case study from tropical Africa, the same pressures on forested land exist in much of the tropical forest in Asia and Latin America. Hence the analysis of what constitutes the ‘best’ use of this forested land from a local, national and global perspective should be of more general interest. The methodology for estimating the total economic value of forest land is now well established and a number of studies estimate economic values for forests based on extractive and non-extractive uses: see Pearce (1996). This study follows in this tradition and considers the ﬁnancial and broader economic returns to oil palm and rubber plantations, sustainable forest use and subsistence-oriented agriculture (known...
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