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13 February 2015

ERuDeF Looses Wildlife Biologist

Posted in News, Views 1295

ERuDeF Looses Wildlife Biologist

ERuDeF has lost one of her wildlife biologists. Miss Bernice Fien Muh, 30 years old, died in a car accident on January 7, 2015 on her back from Fundong after spending time with family.


Bernice joined the ERuDeF family in 2008 to serve as coordinator of the Great Apes Project after her M.Sc. from the University of Buea. This role offered her an opportunity to meet lots of people around the globe and also as an outlet to express herself as the wild, free and utterly gentle butterfly she was known to be. She was full of life and ambition, often setting her limits far beyond the sky. Her boisterous, industrious, passion for nature and large-than-life personality gained her much popularity amongst friends, colleagues.

'In 2008, I met her when she just graduated with an M.Sc in Zoology from the University of Buea. When I finished discussing with her on what my organization does, she fell in love with it and decided immediately that she will join it. She left us in 2013 to join the University of Yaounde I but continued to work for ERuDeF. She represented me in Nigeria and was leading our project in the East Region of Cameroon at the Deng Deng National Park before the unfortunate accident that claimed her life. It is still really hard to come to terms with the fact that the cold hands of death sneaked her to the world beyond. The news of her abrupt fading away came like a bomb to me and the entire ERuDeF staff. It left an atmosphere of consternation within the organization and bitter spittle in my mouth that I still find really hard to swallow' said Louis Nkembi, President CEO ERuDeF.

"I knew her when she came to ERuDeF as a Biologist and later left to further her studies. She has remained my professional daughter since then. I called her from time to time to handle specific projects within the organization. I appreciated her for many reasons; she was assiduous, sociable, humble, respectful, and had a traditional smiling fashion even in the face of animosity. Her eternal departure remains a very big loss to the organization and the conservation world at large. The entire ERuDeF team truly loves and misses her. May her gentle soul find eternal rest in the bosom of the Almighty" Louis Nkembi lamented.

Bernice was laid to rest in her native Fujua village, Fundong subdivion on the 17th of January 2015. Adieu Bernice.


By Asoh Bedwin

13 February 2015

ERuDeF Agro-foresters Use Smartphones To Collect Data

Posted in News, Views 1099

ERuDeF Agro-foresters Use Smartphones To Collect Data

ERuDeF agro-foresters have begun using Smartphones to collect field data.


The agro-foresters had earlier on received training on this new monitoring and evaluation technique from Ben Addlestone, John Munsell and Andrew Zacharias from Trees for Future USA when they visited to Cameroon recently.

The ERuDeF agro-foresters tested their new skills on February 5, 2015 at a forest garden farm in Dibanda Mile 14, Buea, South West Region.

The trio from Trees for Future USA also seized the opportunity to interact with old and new staff and monitor progress of work and use of funds, examine process of transition for old and new farms, determine a plan of action for 2015 and beyond, based on the overall Trees project objectives adapted for the Cameroon model.

They were also out to test new monitoring and evaluation surveys in the field and give feedback, seek out partners and collaborators for expansion as well as determine how the Cameroon program can best fit into the new Trees for the Future model.

Meanwhile, the owner of the farm, Funge Nicholas, said his annual income has risen to 2 million francs cfa on a nine-hectare piece of land, thanks to forest gardening.

Funge grows crops such as cocoa, coffee, plantains, bananas, maize, oranges, plums, pears, palms, timber and agro-forestry trees like calliandra and lucenia.

The farmer said the agro-forestry tree species have fertilized the soil subsequently increasing his crop yields.

"The forest garden technique has really developed my farm, and I advise other farmers to use this technique to improve their output and incomes. I am now a successful farmer thanks to the assistance from ERuDeF and partner," said Funge.

ERuDeF and partner, Trees for the Future, has been training farmers on the forest gardening approach and encourage farming groups and individuals to practise agro-forestry techniques in crop production to increase crop yields and improve income.


By Njumbe Peter Salle

13 February 2015

Isolated Sub-Populations Of Threatened Trees Of Mt. Cameroon Re-united Through Biological Corridors

Posted in News, Views 1233

Isolated Sub-Populations Of Threatened Trees Of  Mt.  Cameroon Re-united Through Biological Corridors

Isolated threatened trees subpopulations of the Mount Cameroon area will henceforth be linked through biological corridors. This is the major resolution from the validation workshop of the distribution of threatened trees of Mt Cameroon area. The validation workshop took place recently at the conference hall of the SW Regional Delegation of Forestry and Wildlife in Buea.

By Immaculate Mkong

Speaking during the validation workshop, the SW Regional Delegate for Forestry and Wildlife, Samuel Eben Ebai appreciated ERuDeF for supporting MINFOF in conserving threatened tree species of Mt. Cameroon. While encouraging stakeholders to tackle threats from their root causes or drivers, the Delegate said the workshop report would serve as a working document that will enrich the data base and provide scientific information that can be forwarded to the Minister for an eventual ban on the exploitation of Microbelinia bisulcata and other threatened tree species.

The resolutions arrived at were that ERuDeF consult the national inventory database on the distribution of threatened tree species in Mt. Cameroon to confirm their statistics, that effective control against illegal logging be intensified in Forest Reserves hosting Microbelinia, that hotspots for illegal activities be identified and measures put in place to minimize them, that sensitization be extended to all stakeholders including user local communities, that a management inventory on threatened species in each site be done in order to update the data base, that support be given to local councils and other stake holders to encourage the regeneration of threatened tree species, that the file for the management of the Mokoko Community Forest be reinitiated, that Chiefs of Post be assisted in the monitoring of threatened tree species, that the project should identify and tag mature trees of interest that will not be fell in the existing forest management concessions and that a Memorandum of Understanding be established with the forest exploitation companies on the sustainable management of these trees.

The Coordinator of the Mount Cameroon Threatened Trees Project, Ms Limbi Blessing, explained that the 4 maps produced showed the spatial distribution of key endangered species of Mt. Cameroon, the spatial distribution of Microbelinia in the Mt Cameroon area, the of phenology of Entandrophragma angolenses and the phenology of Microbelinia bisulcata in the Mt. Cameroon area. According to Ms Limbi Blessing, isolated populations of threatened trees of Mt. Cameroon will be linked through the creation of biological corridors.

The Mt. Cameroon Threatened Trees project has as goal to conserve threatened tree species of the Mt Cameroon area with Microbelinia bisulcata as the flagship species. The project's major activities she further added include nursery development, regeneration, botanical surveys, management of species wild populations in the existing protected areas, production forests, community forests and council reserves.

From 2015, the project will proactively engage all its stakeholders from the range of stakeholders that include the local councils, different user groups, chiefs, and communities, regional and central administrations of the relevant Ministries to ensure that the project objectives are fully accomplished. A robust monitoring and control plan will be implemented and illegal loggers arrested and punished according to the regulations in force. The project will continue to give mentorship and backstopping to the key local stakeholders including the Mt Cameroon National Park, local councils, regional brigade, and community forest management teams.

Given the new and emergent threats posed by the rapidly rising urban population around Mt Cameroon and its nearness to the Douala cosmopolitan city, the composite human pressure on the key biodiversity species of this biodiversity hotspot is serious and need urgent attention. Some of the key threat factors include illegal logging, conversion of forest to agricultural land and inappropriate management and regeneration. According to the President/CEO of ERuDeF, Louis Nkembi, it will take effective contributions and collaboration from all stakeholders to provide a long term protection to the threatened trees of Mt. Cameroon area.

To conclude the workshop, the Delegate recommended that the resolutions be taken into serious consideration given the importance of the species under consideration.

'I want to thank ERuDeF for assisting MINFOF in protecting the threatened species of Mt Cameroon. A lot of work has been done since last year to improve on the number of tree species in the forest reserves. The maps have identified areas where the species are found, so for now I would say these maps are a working document to enrich our data base. This validation workshop is to produce a document that will specify or give us information on how the tree species are distributed around the Mt. Cameroon area. All of us are aware that of late there has been an over exploitation of Microbellinia bisulcata, so we want to come up with a strategy on how to handle this challenge' said the Delegate.

This project receives financial and technical support from the Fauna and Flora International (FFI)/Global Trees Campaign and the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife of Cameroon.


By Immaculate Mkong

13 February 2015

Modern Mill Boosts Palm Oil Production In Mak-Bechou

Posted in News, Views 1319

Modern Mill Boosts Palm Oil Production In Mak-Bechou

A modern oil mill has uplifted the livelihood of the inhabitants of Essoh-Attah one of the villages in the proposed Mak-Bechou wildlife sanctuary in Lebialem Division, South West Region.

The oil mill was donated by ERuDeF in 2012 and installed within the framework of the French Charity Man &Nature-sponsored projects.

"Thanks to this oil mill, we are now able to produce 24 tins of palm oil from seven tons of palm nuts," said Ebe Bernard, Coordinator of the Essoh-Attah Oil Mill.


Ebe Bernard explained the processes of oil production. Nuts bought from village farmers are weighed and filled into boiler where cooking under intense heat is done for about four hours. The cooked palm nuts are transferred to the grinding machine where grinding and extraction of the oil is done for about six hours. Ground oil is transported manually using buckets into the next cooker for another five hour cooking period. The cooked oil is then collected and filled into containers ready for the market. It should be noted that oil at this stage is collected in four stages with each stage depicting the purity level of the oil. Oil collected from stage one is ready for consumption while oil from stages two, three and four is sent to the dryer to cook for about ten minutes again.

"So that is the process, the reason why we cook the oil for long is to ensure that the oil is purified and that the final consumers get the best. We store the prepared oil in the safety tank as you can see there and wait for ERuDeF to help us transport to Dschang for commercialization," Ebe explained.

Ebe also disclosed to the GV that they still face the challenge of fraud in the business; a kilogram of fresh palm nuts cost between 45 and 60 francs cfa so some unscrupulous villagers mix fresh nuts with spoilt and/or already used nuts during weighing just to increase the number of kilograms. This has a negative bearing on the overall productivity because according to Ebe Bernard, seven tons of fresh palms should produce at least 40 tins of oil.

"To check this fraud, I have decided that palms be spread on a table and properly checked before weighing is done. It's true this is time consuming but I think it is worth it," Ebe said.

Before the coming of the oil mill, villagers produced oil manually using their feet to smash palms. The fact that the manual method was long, tedious , less profitable and even less hygienic cannot be overemphasized. Most of the villagers testified that the oil mill has not only boosted palm oil production in the area, but has also encouraged farmers to engage in the cultivation of palm nuts since they now have a steady market. 'I am very excited each time the palm harvest season is approaching because I know I am going to make a lot of money from selling my palm nuts. Palm harvest season is from November to April and I use that period to raise enough money to take care of my family throughout the year. Before, we used to suffer a lot to transport our palms to the market, especially with the bad roads, but now, we don't have to strain a lot, most often the ERuDeF vehicle even helps us transport the palms from the farm to the oil mill where weighing is done. I think this oil mill is a blessing to this community' testified Mbe-Nkem Chap Jerome, a farmer.

Apart from the oil mill, other ERuDeF projects in Essoh-Attah like the Microfinance Scheme, the agro-forestry and education programs have also impacted the lives of the people. In a recent visit to Government Technical College Abebue, where a tree nursery was established and environmental education done, this reporter noticed that not only was the school campus very clean, but trees from the nursery had been transplanted on the school campus and were doing quite well. The principal of the school, Njang Valentine said that the didactic material and other educational support offered them by ERuDeF has facilitated the teaching process and has encouraged most parents to send their children to school. The principal expressed happiness following the gazettement of the Tofala Hill Wildlife Sanctuary and promised their relentless support to ERuDeF conservation efforts in the area, so that the proposed Mak-Bechou wildlife sanctuary can also receive full protection status.

The situation was not very different at the Government Primary School Abebue, where the class 4, 5 and 6 pupils were able to repeat some of the environmental messages taught them by ERuDeF education teams. The next and last stop was at the micro-finance building where the secretary, Forkalem Joseph revealed that they have a few registered members. Giving a general appraisal on the impact of ERuDeF's projects in Essoh-Attah, Forkalem Joseph said ERuDeF has helped boost the socio-economic life of the people and they are grateful.


By Immaculate Mkong

13 February 2015

30 Years On, Displaced Bambalang Natives Yearn For Rescue

Posted in News, Views 1836

30 Years On, Displaced Bambalang Natives Yearn For Rescue

They were displaced when the Baminjim Dam was constructed and its waters flooded the Ndop plains, submerging homes, farmlands and raffia bushes. Thirty years after, the complexity of this dire situation makes a visitor to the Bambalang islands feel the paradox of development imposed on a people who feel desolate.


Death by drowning, mosquitoes and mosquito-related diseases have emerged in Bambalang islands and their environs since 1974 after the construction of the Baminjim Dam in Kwotamo, Noun Division, West Region.

Seven tiny islands are the only highest points left in the plains of Ndop in Ndop Central Sub-division, Ngoketunjia Division, North West Region, after the waters of the Baminjim Dam flooded a large area of Bambalang, giving birth to a new vastness of water called Lake Bambalang.

The lake seems to violate a deep sense of identity most Bambalang natives cherish – their bond with the soil – a bond so potent that they see themselves as refugees demoted to deserted island.

It took a week for Lake Bambalang to form. As it grew in size, it washed away homes, farmlands, and raffia bushes. The people, mainly farmers and palm wine tappers, were suddenly surrounded by a vast body of water. In no time, the Bambalang villagers were disconnected from their kith and kin, traditional livelihood sources and social amenities. With their farms and raffia bushes under deep water, the cut-off villagers were left with little choice but to learn to fish.

In interviews conducted by The Green Vision on Mbissa Island, the largest and most populated man-made island, the farmers-turned-fishermen expressed concern about how they have since been treated by the government, an issue that has led to several deaths by drowning in the expansive lake, and agony from mosquitoes.

The islanders say they want comfort just as much as anyone else since they lost much of their farmlands to the lake.

"We have had too much to lose. What we enjoy now is risk bearing," said Njindam Daouda, the traditional ruler of Mbissa Island.

About 3.000 people live on Mbissa Island, one of seven islands that include Befugeh, Keshi, Semou, Mono, Nambere and Tungunu, all populated with isolated people, some of whom received as little as 25.000 francs cfa, others 480.000 francs cfa as compensation.

On these islands, where poverty has been rising and most of the islanders live without clean water, no proper means of transport and medical care, neglect is hard to ignore.

Some media reports claim government created a residential area for the relocation of those displaced by the Baminjim Dam waters but actual construction remains uncertain.

"There was never any plan executed to relocate those displaced by the flooding waters of the Baminjim Dam," Zachary Fru Nsutebu, retired town planner, told The Green Vision.

"As soon as the dam began overflowing, I was summoned to Bambalang. I merely did virtual planning, in situ, but there never was any real activity such as construction of infrastructure to relocate the persons displaced by the forming lake," Nsutebu said.

In the Ndop valley, the Baminjim Dam forms a storage reservoir for hydropower production (1.8 billion cubic metres).

The nearby Baminjim reservoir, however, was never constructed with irrigation in mind or with other clear integrated uses as the Ndop rice fields are upstream. Nonetheless, the marooned Bambalang natives recall how they benefited from the man-made lake, which offers the Bambalang carp and black tilapia species of fish, mud fish and tadpoles.

"Between 1985 and 1996, we enjoyed a lot from fishing; we also made much income from selling smoked fish," Daouda said.

Although the villagers were forcefully converted to fishermen, they still grow crops like maize, beans, groundnuts, tomatoes, pepper, yams which they transport by canoe to Bambalang market on the mainland.

But there is more bad social news on the Bambalang horizon.

"The islands became convenient breeding grounds for mosquitoes and the rate of malaria infection in and around the islands increased," said Ndimu Bertrand, an indigene of Bambalang. Besides the torment from mosquitoes, the villagers often drown while fishing or crossing to or from the island in paddle canoes.

At least a dozen people die yearly in the man-made lake that surrounds the seven islands of Bambalang.

"A few years ago, two Social Democratic Front (SDF) militants died in the lake. They were crossing to carry out political campaigns in the island area," said Ndimu.

"Last year, 17 people died in the lake. A six-year-old boy just drowned in the lake and we are waiting for his corpse to surface," Daouda told The Green Vision.

These deaths by drowning tend to scare off people who are sent to supervise vaccination drives or election campaigns in Mbissa.

According to Daouda, there is no place for the islanders to relocate; some people escaped to the West Region and the lake may continue to expand, yet the Mbissa Island and the others are infested with filaria and river blindness.

"There is still no electricity and we do not have clean drinking water," said Zacharia Kwenwi, a motorcyclist who buys palm wine from Bambalang mainland and sells it on Mbissa Island.

In 2013, Daouda said he wrote to the Prime Minister's office concerning electricity, connection to the mainland and compensation for submerged property and farmlands.

"We only received promises for solar panels, but till date, we haven't seen anything like solar panels," Daouda said.

Lake Bambalang also gave birth to a new breed of bandits; fishnet thieves. In November 2014, a notorious youth was caught trying to steal a net from the lake and was summarily executed and his corpse burnt to ashes.

As for infrastructure, the Bambalang islands remain perpetually backward.

According to Ndimu, it is just about three years ago that a secondary school was created in the area.

"Before, most of the inhabitants had to either remain illiterate or risk crossing the mighty lake to study in GHS Bambalang or in Bamum in the West Region. A health centre was, however, constructed here some 15 years ago thanks to the advocacy work of late Dr. Ghogomu Amida," said Ndimu.

Claims by government authorities that some of the displaced Bambalang villagers refuse to relocate to sites developed for them are often refuted bitterly, as it happened during the floods of 2013 that ravaged Babessi along the Bamenda Ring Road.

The floods were said to have emanated from the Baminjin Dam site.

The Senior Divisional Officer for Ngoketunjia, Valerie Kwela, had expressed disappointment at the Babessi flood victims 'who refused to move from the area to a site, which government had newly developed for them a few kilometres on the outskirts of Babessi.'

Media reports, however, said the villagers complained that they could only settle there if water, electricity, and good living houses were made available on the said site.

With their lands lost, their traditional practice of farming gradually fading, and with much of their social needs out of reach, the Bambalang island dwellers hope that one day government will turn its attention to them, get them out of harm's way and grant them better living conditions.

Mbissa Island has only one health centre with no resident doctor – there are only two doctors in Bambalang. There are two poorly equipped primary schools and a secondary school that is just four years old.

A system of a really rapid, safe transport which cannot be a danger to commuters on Lake Bambalang must be straightaway devised and as speedily as possible launched; social amenities such as electricity; better staffed and equipped health centres must be put on the islands without any delay.


By Azero Opio

13 February 2015

Mapping Customary Lands For Forest Governance Launched In South West

Posted in News, Views 1206

Mapping Customary Lands For Forest Governance Launched In South West

The Cameroon segment of the programme to lead communities to map customary lands and resources in the Congo Basin was launched January 30, 2015 in Nguti, Nguti Subdivision, Kupe-Muaneguba Division.

Forêts et Développement Rural pour un Monde meilluer (FODER) in partnership with Rainforest UK and three local civil society organisations (CSOs); AJESH, APED and APIFED are implementing the participatory documentation of forest communities resources in Cameroon.


At the official launching of the land use mapping programme, AJESH CEO Harrison Ajebe Nnoko Ngaaje said the project is driven by the fact that forest communities in the Congo Basin have been found to be largely invisible on official maps, and therefore have virtually no formal rights to land.

"Governments in the Congo Basin have allocated much of the land to timber companies or created conservation areas with little regard to the rights of the communities living in and adjacent to these forest concessions and conservation areas," Nnoko Ngaaje said.

In addition, expansion of agro-businesses, infrastructure development and mining ventures are posing more threats to the communities as well as exerting further pressure on forests, land and livelihoods.

The new participative management strategy being developed to provide an opportunity to give forest communities a voice in forest policy development through community-led mapping of customary lands and resource rights and build legal capacity to support communities' rights, would attract some 23 villages in Nguti Subdivision.

Five of the villages have already carried out the resource mapping of their forests.

"It was quite an exciting experience not only because we learnt to use the sophisticated GIS gadgets, but we also discovered new things in our forests such as caves which we had hitherto not known that existed," said Mbongaya Patrick from Ekenge village.

The land use mapping exercise was also a whole new incident for the chief of Ediengoh, Njah Akpo George, who decided to learn how to use the GIS and collect data on their resources.

"At first, it seemed strange to us but now we have seen how useful it is to know where all our resources are found," said Chief Njah Akpo.

The representative of the chief of Nkwenfor village, Eko John, who also participated in mapping out the resources of their village, encouraged other villagers to take up the challenge and "possess a land use map that will empower you and give you better bargaining advantage."

The Mapping and Forest Governance (MFP) Programme was designed with evidence that securing traditional land and resource rights is one of the most effective ways of reducing poverty in forest areas and combat deforestation, which consequently would slow climate change.

"Until recently, there have been few formal mechanisms that allow for participative forest management. Clarification of tenure has been recognized as a cornerstone of good forest governance and as a means to enable responsible investment," says the programme on Mapping and Forest Governance in the Congo Basin.

The programme features community mapping of customary rights and resource use and other techniques that promote the participation of indigenous peoples; development of icon-based software on GPS-enabled tablets to facilitate participation of non-literate people; correction and validation of GIS data in villages and agreement on data-use protocols and community strategies to ensure firm ownership of the process in the hands of the community; collection of data on a range of social development indicators, enabling mapping of communities' development needs, among others.

The programme also hopes to accurately illustrate the extent of existing occupation and traditional tenure of forest lands throughout the Congo Basin.

It would also provide a basis for national and sub-national forest land planning and zoning; illustrate where conflicts of use or rights already exist or could ensue, inform programmes and laws to reform or clarify forest tenure rights, including development of community forest policies, provide a basis for assessing and implementing payments to communities for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) or payments for ecosystem services and other development interventions as well as assist in monitoring compliance with international and bilateral agreements or treaties on the rights of indigenous peoples.

It is estimated that over 50 million people depend on the Congo Basin rainforest for their wellbeing and livelihoods and as many as 700.000 indigenous hunter-gatherers (Pygmies) who are still partially nomadic, yet these groups constitute the most disenfranchised and poorest people on the African continent. Many of these people lack basic social amenities and often do not benefit from the exploitation of the forest areas they inhabit.


By Azore Opio

13 February 2015

ERuDeF Staff Sharpen Skills To Improve Productivity

Posted in News, Views 1206

ERuDeF Staff Sharpen Skills To Improve Productivity

The staff of the Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF) recently underwent intensive in-house training to hone their skills in various fields with the aim of improving their efficiency and increasing productivity at work.

The training took place at ERuDeF's headquarters in Buea, South West Region from December 15, 2014 to January 22, 2015.

The major of aim of the professional course was to lay the ground work for the 2015 to 2020 strategic and operational plans for ERuDeF.


During the four-week course, the about 30-strong team was trained on how to draw road maps, sketch conceptual models, and come up with operational, strategic, budget, business, fundraising and time budget plans.

ERuDeF President/CEO, Louis Nkembi, said the training was important because it was evident that over the years, staff have been working without any clear-cut goal; they don't know what they want to achieve and how they can contribute to the overall mission of the organisation. Thus, the idea of the road map and conceptual model where each staff is aware of where he/she is going and how the project they are working fits in the overall organisation's mission and vision.

"We want to improve on the on the holistic productivity of the staff vis-a-vis achieving their respective goals and meeting the mission of ERuDeF," Nkembi said. "It is another approach in developing a concrete succession plan through a systematic and methodological screening of the most competent staff". The process would be completed through an additional 12-month long course on program development and fundraising. At the end of the 12-month course, those who make it through will receive post-graduate diplomas issued by both the ERuDeF Institute and St. Monica University.

A Canadian volunteer, Kelly Dudas, gave an elaborate discussion on ownership where every staff was urged to be focused, accountable and ensure meeting the targets given for the different projects concerned in the organisation.

The Director of Administration and Human Resources at ERuDeF, Hilary Cham, lectured on leadership and the roles of line managers; who a supervisor is and should be.

According to him, a supervisor is an authority who is a reflection of the organisation and must determine the ways the goals of her department should be achieved.

ERuDeF Project Coordinator of the Mount Cameroon Threatened Trees, Blessing Limbi, said the training was very helpful as she now knows her direction and all the milestones; what should be achieved and in what time frame.

"Even though under much pressure, the training was a necessity for a positive and speedy movement of the organisation," Limbi said.


By Margaret Eyong Abio

12 February 2015

Access Benefit Sharing; Potential Driver Of Development

Posted in News, Views 1474

Access Benefit Sharing; Potential Driver Of Development

Access Benefit Sharing (ABS) is a fledgling project but has huge developmental potentials once it takes root in Cameroon, says Peter Schaurte after visiting the Echinops project site in Magha, Lebialem Division.


GV: You visited the Echinops ABS project in Magha recently, what impressions were you left with?

P. Schaurte: Unfortunately, we found out that the ABS process is threatened by local political issues but with ERuDeF and the ABS professional initiative, we tried our best to advance the process. Since we cannot get involved in local issues, we tried to deal with all stakeholders and it is now left for them to get things organized so that the ABS process can continue.


GV: Despite the challenges observed, any long-term vision for the project?

P. Schaurte: We are trying to facilitate the process. ABS is not yet well established not only in Cameroon, but worldwide. I see Cameroon with potentials for ABS especially with the rich biodiversity, which is linked to the bio-geographic diversity; from tropical rainforest mountains to the savannah; all the major ecosystems are represented. So, if this pilot phase works out well, I personally see ABS contributing to the development of Cameroon.

GV: What does the commercialization of echinops entail?


P. Schaurte: The projections are very clear; there is an essential aromatic products company, Mane et Fils that is interested in echinops. We are planning to export 1000 kg of echinops in 2015, and then gradually go up to 3000 kg in 2018. This is a significant additional income source for the people of Magha-Bamumbu, which is where echinops is growing for now. We would have to see how the commercialization of the essential oil, which has been extracted from the plant goes; and if it goes well, there are still potentials to export even bigger quantities of the plant.

GV: Are there any benefits that await the people of Magha-Bamumbu through the exploitation of echinops?

P. Schaurte: That is still to be determined. It is part of the negotiations going on now and I cannot say how it is going to end. It is to be discussed and negotiated between the three major stakeholders; the local community represented by traditional authorities, the government represented by the Ministry of Environment, Protection of Nature and Sustainable Development (MINEPDED) and the user company which is the French Aromatic Product company. The first benefit, which is already sure is that they will sell the roots at the price which still needs to be negotiated. This is a root on which there has never been a price tag before, so that is an added advantage. There are also many options of negotiating non-monetary benefits as well which can go into research, corporation and partnership, social infrastructure and many others. But these need to be discussed between the parties involved.

GV: Apart from Magha-Bamumbu, have you identified other areas with ABS potentials?


P. Schaurte: Like I said before, Cameroon is highly diverse in terms of regions and biodiversity, there is a very high potential, and we need to see whether we can get other private technical companies interested in such biological and genetic resources. Generally, the potential is extremely high one of the reasons why not only the ABS initiative, but also local NGOs like ERuDeF and international organs like the UNDP and the German Development Corporation (GIZ) are interested to continue supporting the programme.

12 February 2015

Mt. Bamboutos Inhabitants Pledge Support To ABS In 2015

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Mt. Bamboutos Inhabitants Pledge Support To ABS In 2015

The people of Magha-Bamumbu have promised to support the Access and Benefit Sharing, ABS, project in 2015. The project that commenced in 2012 is now at its commercialization phase. They made this pledge on January 28, 2015 during a workshop that took place at the Mount Bamboutos Echinops Cooperative hall. The workshop organized by ERuDeF's ABS team was aimed at schooling the people on the benefits of the echinops project as well as exposing the 2015 action plan.


Community involvement and integration in project activities is very fundamental to the success of any project. It is within this framework that the ABS team found it necessary to remind the people of Magha-Bamumbu on what they stand to gain from the echinops project.

Participants at the workshop discussed key issues like the quantity of echinops to be harvested as well as the price per kilogram.

Members of the Mount Bamboutos Echinops Cooperative (MoBECos) suggested 2.500 francs cfa for a kilogram of dried echinops roots but the ABS Coordinator, Lea Nkenmene, said the suggested price was too high especially because non-monetary benefits are still to be considered. Afterwards, it was resolved that the price per kilogram of echinops would stand at 2.000 cfa while waiting for government to decide the final price.

The plant's sustainability was another area of interest to both the project coordinators and the community. After a long exchange on the issue, members of the community promised to follow the standard for planting echinops seeds suggested by ethno-botanists in order to guarantee the sustainability of the plant.

Nkenmene reminded them that fines have been allocated for cooperative members who do not respect the planting norms. This is expected to spur members to be meticulous when planting the echinops seeds.

"The echinops project is in sheer competition with the cultivation of Irish potatoes within the Magha-Bamumbu community, consequently members should own this project and make it vibrant to attract the population," said Fabious Menkemantoh Leku, member of MoBECos in charge of production, harvest and supply of echinops giganteus.

Meanwhile in response to the creation of a community forest, Walter Ndam, ethno-botanist and consultant to the project, was positive that the creation of a forest would be beneficial to the community.

According to the ethno-botanist, creating a forest will go a long way to reduce the acute water shortages which have recently ignited conflicts among farmers as they scramble to irrigate their farms during the dry season.

"The forest belongs to the community and not to an individual," Ndam said.

The participants at the workshop expressed the desire to actively participate in the tree planting exercise on the different water catchment points. They also expressed great need for the creation of a micro-credit scheme in the village, saying it would encourage farmers to save and plan for the future and those of their children.


By Endah Sheron

12 February 2015

An Amazing Trip to Tofala Hill Wildlife Sanctuary

Posted in News, Views 950

An Amazing Trip to Tofala Hill Wildlife Sanctuary

I am Anna Buchling from Germany. I was in Cameroon under the ERuDeF International Volunteering Programme (IVP) from October 27 to November 8, 2014. I visited the jungle, and communities.

I had a wonderful experience working with ERuDeF both in the communities and in the jungle. It was great just been closed to nature and been with beautiful people. Then the team of ERuDeF-is super competence and super nice and I really felt warmly welcome.

My visit to the rainforest was really amazing! I realized that the rainforest in Cameroon especially the Tofala rainforest I went to is very rich. You find all the variety of plants and animals you can ever imagine. You don't really see the animals but there are lots of signs indicating their existence in this ecosystem. It is really a wonderful experience seen these amazing overgrowing and huge jungle with all the population of flora and fauna. It's just overwhelming how many species you find there.

Trying to live with the people and the villages like those who live really close to this forest and trying to increase their level of knowledge on conservation of wildlife and the significance of their involvement was really great. Supper nice people and highly motivated!

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