To help improve land-use governance and facilitate implementation of Cameroon’s 2011 land-use planning law, the EU REDD Facility supported a coalition of partners to develop the Common Mapping Platform. The idea was to provide information that stakeholders need to make land-use planning decisions. The Platform makes this information accessible by presenting it all in one place, instead of being stored by different agencies and actors where it can be incomplete or out of date. World Resources Institute (WRI) and other partners are providing technical support to the online version of the Platform. Still under development, the Platform will be hosted by the Ministry of Economy, Planning and Regional Development (MINEPAT).
Maps are a powerful tool in land-use planning because they can present large amounts of social, economic and geographical information together in an understandable and visual way. Traditional chiefs and representatives of the municipal council, regional government, NGOs and private sector came together in 2015 to explain what information they wanted to be included in the platform.
Traditional chiefs asked for the map to show the time taken and cost of transportation of agricultural commodities, such as cocoa, between agricultural areas and the main market. The project partners then created accessibility maps from the South West Region to the major port city of Douala. With the cooperation of civil society organisations, the Common Mapping Platform also provides spatial information on how land is used by communities for traditional purposes such as hunting, fishing, worship, and customary tenure boundaries.
The project partners also sought to determine the suitability of cocoa and palm oil to help guide sustainable investment in the area. Based on best available scientific information and local knowledge, the mapping exercise demonstrated that much of the land in Nguti was only marginally suitable for palm oil, and therefore not ideal for large scale agricultural expansion of these crops. Mapping experts from partner research institutions in the region also estimated the suitability of cocoa in different terrains in the future, taking into consideration predictions for warmer temperatures due to climate change.