Background: Rattan is an important Non-Timber Forest Product (NTFP) with huge potentials to boost socio-economic development in indigenous communities of Cameroon in particular and the entire country in general. Exploitation is from the wild, with no implication of stakeholders in renewing the resource, thus leading to resources scarcity. Insufficient knowledge on rattan’s growth potentials in Cameroon jeopardize resource regeneration and renewal. It was in this context that this study was initiated to (i) determine economically important rattan species distribution; (ii) identify their habitats and conservation status; (iii) examine harvester’s perceptions/observations on annual growth rate and age to maturity.
Results: It was found that Eremospatha macrocarpa exist in all AEZs, Calamus deerratus was found in AEZ 2 & 5, Laccosperma Secundiflorum, L. Robustum, was found in AEZ 3, 4 and 5 and Eremospatha wendlandiana was found only in AEZ4. They grow in diverse habitat/environments with some habitats/environments specifically suitable for some rattan species. The current conservation status of commercial rattan species identified shows Least Concern (LC); but resource scarcity in high. Most harvesters observed that rattan takes either 2 – 3 years (51%) or 4 – 5 years (35%) to attain maturity. The harvesters’ observation on annual growth rate of economic rattan species varied in relation to the species and AEZs, nevertheless, globally 25% and 23% of the respondents observed a growth rate of 2-3 m and 3-4 m respectively. Kruskal-Wallis test shows a significant variation in harvesters’ perception in the different AEZs for all growth and maturity parameters of different rattan species (p<0.05) except for the number of years it takes for rattan to attain maturity (p>0.05)”.
Conclusions: All five economically important rattan species are highly distributed in the Southern zone of Cameroon. The availability of E. macrocarpa in all zones indicates its great adaption. Renewing (plantations) rattan resource implies appropriate planting in the Southern and Coastal regions of Cameroon, since the all the species inhabit and grow rapidly. This is important to policymakers and development planners for policy reformulation towards the sustainable development of rattan in Cameroon.