Summary and Implications

Cameroon possesses an extraordinarily wide range of topographical features, including a low-lying coastal plain, mountainous areas, rolling hills, and high-elevation plains. It has abundant, albeit very unevenly distributed, water resources and significant mineral resources, including modest oil reserves. Its location in the tropics produces an overall pattern of relatively high temperatures and alternation between dry and rainy seasons, but there is considerable regional variation based on altitude and other factors, and the climate becomes increasingly dry as one moves north toward the Sahel. The country’s physical and climatic variation has produced a wide variety of biomes and ecosystems, including mangrove swamps, rain forests, savannah, and Sahel. Its population is neither especially high nor especially low for sub-Saharan Africa, and its rapid growth, young population, and ongoing urbanization are typical. Many people remain on the land, but it has two cities with populations exceeding two million, as well as many smaller ones. Its characterization as “Africa in miniature” is thus well deserved, making it an excellent research site.

Cameroon’s serious environmental problems include deforestation, soil depletion and erosion, desertification, declining biodiversity, water shortages and water pollution, air pollution, solid waste disposal, and coastal problems—virtually all of the environmental problems found elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa. This diversity of problems provides much for environmental NGOs to do and makes the country an excellent place to study them.

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