CONTRIBUTION OF REMOTE SENSING IN THE EVALUATION OF FOREST DYNAMICS ON THE SLOPES OF MOUNT CAMEROON

E.F. Kah1, M. Tchindjang1, F.V. Menga1, E. Tonye2

1 - The University of Yaounde I, Department of Geography, Yaounde, Cameroon

2 - The University of Yaounde I, National Higher School Polytechnic, Yaounde, Cameroon

mtchind@yahoo.fr,kah_elvis@yahoo.fr

 

Forests cover about 40% of the earths surface. To this, tropical humid forest constitutes 60 million hectares. Forest presents as the richest ecosystem of the planet (World Bank, 1989). It disposes 50 to 90% of animal and vegetal species of the earths surface. It constitutes about 8000 of plants of which 80% are endemic. Such great wealth of biodiversity in this milieu results from the hot and rainy climatic ambiance which characterise the tropical regions. Tropical humid forests cover about 60 countries of the world. They are concentrated in Central and Southern America, Central and West Africa and in SE Asia. Among these, about 200 million hectares are concentrated in Central and West Africa and thus renders this region the second in terms of surface area in humid tropical forest coming after the Amazon Basin. It should be noted that the humid tropical forest has a great socio economic and environmental importance at the regional, national and at local scales. It also has a determinant role in climatic regulation at the global scale. Since about more than 30 years, about half of this forest has been lost due to irrational exploitation and demographic growth

The lower altitudes of the Mount Cameroon Region undergo radical changes in forest cover. These changes are linked to the creation of vast plantations of the CDC, the opening of new crop farms and other cash crops such as cocoa and the extension of settlements. Besides these, volcanic eruptions which have a frequency of at least 1 time in every 11 years also induce major changes mostly on the forest cover. These changes thus constitute a preoccupation of the Cameroonian Government to interrogate on the factors and the rate of these modifications.

The rate of deforestation is analysed in terms of biodiversity destruction and the danger that lava flow poses during volcanic eruptions. This study emphasizes on the evolution of deforestation between 1986 and 2000, done through Remote Sensing. The study with the results realised tries to throw more light on the quantitative change mentioned above. The work demonstrates the extent of forest degradation which is in an irrational manner and which; given the demographic growth, risks becoming irreversible if conservative measure are not reinforced.