Uncovering leverage points for inclusive, resilient, and sustainable infrastructure expansion in forest landscapes

 

The expansion of infrastructure into remote forest areas brings both opportunity and risk. Global safeguards exist to guide sustainable development but are often inadequate to deal with the complex trade-offs at the landscape scale. There is a need to understand how local governance systems can support inclusive and resilient futures in tropical forest landscapes. Focusing on forest areas of high biodiversity and high poverty in Cameroon, our research has three objectives:

1: Evaluate the inclusiveness of infrastructure projects
Large scale investments in infrastructure tend to favour corporate and political interests, without addressing concerns of IPLCs. There is a need to explore how inclusion and community empowerment are addressed in policies and impact assessments.

2. Identify attributes of landscape governance that promote resilient systems
Drawing from principles for social-ecological resilience, we will explore how landscape governance arrangements can balance conservation and development trade-offs of infrastructure expansion. 

3. Derive lessons for how to leverage future infrastructure expansion for inclusive, resilient, and sustainable forest landscapes
Leverage points will help to identify principles and actions for steering future infrastructure projects, including policies at local, national, and international scales

Our collaborators include: IUCN Cameroon, WWF Cameroon, and Dr. Lingfei Weng at Chongqing University, and Professor John Innes at UBC Faculty of Forestry. The first phase of this research will focus on Cameroon. We are working with local partners to co-develop research objectives in Indonesia and Cameroon in the near future.

Funding: Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada Insight Development Grant 2022-2024