Semi-structured interviews were used to explore how rural communities near forests are responding to environmental change in three African nations — Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea and Rwanda. The study first recounts people's perception of environmental change — what are the issues of greatest concern identified by local communities? Second, it explores people's responses to identified environmental problems and in particular the role of forests in these processes. Finally, it concludes with a discussion of changing land management practices, and how their implementation may affect the future adaptation strategies of such communities. Results suggest that people's current and potential responses and adaptation to environmental change are influenced by the availability and access to forests and forest resources, and the degree to which their livelihood strategies have diversified away from forest dependence. Thus we conclude that forest policies such as REDD will need to be responsive to diverse forest-based adaptation needs, rather than assuming a ‘one size fits all’ relationship between forest conservation and adaptation to climate change.
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Vol. 17 • No. 2