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08 November 2013

Up-Scaling Agro-forestry Technologies in Western Highlands Of Cameroon

Posted in News, Views 1380

agroforestry changing lives

Western Cameroon, a densely populated region, is an example of many areas of Africa where the continued threat to the world's land resource is compounded by the need to increase food production and reduce poverty.

Here, the attainment of food security is intrinsically linked with reversing agricultural stagnation, safeguarding the natural resource base and reducing poverty.

Farmers in this region with farm sizes typically less than one hectare per household have many problems. Key among these are low and declining soil fertility which is reflected in the low crop yield, shortages in fodder and fuel wood, reduction in major water volumes and low income from farming activities.

The resultant effects of these problems include; widespread poverty (over half of the households in the region live in absolute poverty - below the World Bank figure of US $ 1 per day), severe food insecurity (many families produce little or no food during most part of the year), high rural-urban migration, and high environmental degradation including the Mt. Bamboutos, a major water shed in the region.

The existence of the Trees for the Future Cameroon program (TREES Cameroon) over the last six years led to the evaluation and dissemination of several agroforestry technologies for improving farm productivity and incomes of small holder farmers.

Farmers and communities have been key participants in the adoption of the different options in soil fertility management and conservation of soil and water resources promoted by Trees for the Future. Examples include the establishment of hedge rows constituting fast growing leguminous trees and shrubs (Acacia angustissima, Leucaena leucocephala, Calliandra calothysus) in crop fields (alley cropping).

Leafy biomass cut from hedge rows are spread on crop fields to provide much-needed nitrogen to the soil. The integration with organic waste from kitchens and compost is an effective and economically feasible means to improve soil fertility.

In addition to improving the fertility of the soil, several species used in the hedge rows provide fuel wood and stake for supporting crops including; climbing beans and tomatoes.

Farmers have also adopted the planting of Colliandra calothyrsus and Leucaena leucocepha in the hedge rows to make use of their high protein content as fodder for livestock especially pigs, goats and chicken.

The ability for most of the species to fallow all year round is very instrumental to farmers in the domain of beekeeping. These farmers are able to produce pure white honey as well as golden brown honey which are both widely known for their medical values

To accelerate the scaling up process, the farmers' associations were grouped into local community-based institutions which we called Agroforestry Farmers Networks (AFN).

Farmers meet every month under the auspices of the AFN and make tours to sites where the technologies have been practised for more than two years. This facilitates knowledge transfer as the farmers mix, discuss freely and gain trust in each other.

Supported by Trees for the Future, the AFNs are able to run a micro-credit scheme that provides micro-loans to farmers to assist them in executing micro-project as a means of diversifying their agricultural activities.

Over the years, farmers in some of the AFNs have benefited up to 100,000 FCFA. Gradually, the AFNs are being linked to government departments and municipal councils to increase their opportunities to benefit from grants as well as technical support from the government to complement their efforts.

By Neba Kingsley

08 November 2013

Aesthetic Value of Forest Products Exposed in Art Exhibition

Posted in News, Views 1408

Beautiful art works from forest products

Lebialem Division in the SW might be known for its richness in biodiversity with the presence of some of the world's rarest animal and plant species. Recently, it has also proven to be a center for arts and craft following an art exhibition that took place in the headquarters, Menji on October 25 & 26, 2013. The exhibition was organized by the Divisional Delegate for Small and Medium Size Enterprises and chaired by the Senior Divisional Officer for Lebialem, Mr. Kouemo Simon, under the theme of "quality goods for consumers". The art exhibition brought together the best fifteen arts and crafts competitors from the three sub-divisions of Lebialem.

The Lebialem people displayed different handicraft products that varied from products made from cassava, corn, soya bean, juice, jam and drinks from different fruits; dresses, bags and shoes made of wool or fiber were also part of the show. Wood, bamboo and cane works of varied designs including, chairs cupboards bamboo bicycles equally featured. Jewelry, cups and bowls made from coconut shells and other forest nuts also graced the exhibition.

The highly competitive exhibition took the jury more than three hours to select the best fifteen people to represent Lebialem at the regional level. At the end, the jury selected the best arts and crafts to represent the division at the regional level.

Some of the arts used dry plantain leaves to do post cards, coconut shells to do bangles for both men and women, palm kernels nuts, njangsa nuts and a host of other hard forest seeds to do medals, bracelets, rings, earrings and necklaces. Who would have known that from such ingenuity could be exposed from using simple forest products and by products.

Some dignitaries in attendance at the event included the Divisional Officers and the Mayors of the Wabane, Alou and Fontem sub-divisions. The beauty of nature was displayed, talents showcased and expertise proven.

Owners of each handicraft stand were urged to use their talents and expertise to help them run their homes, contribute to sustainable development and empower the rural populations.

By Asoh Bedwin

07 October 2013

The Environment and sustainable development in the Cameroon press

Posted in News, Views 1441

The Green Vision Newspaper N° 3

Battle to stop Herakles Illegal Land grap

In the September edition of The Green Vision Newspaper, the paper explores the land grab case of the controversial US firm, Herakles in Cameroon. In an extensive manner, The Green Vision explained that Herakles Farms' invasion of the tropical rainforests in the South West Region of Cameroon threatened to thwart the region's most committed stewards, the indigenes, who have endured fear and uncertainty as their very livelihoods are menaced by those who are likely to profit from the deprivation of their land and its resources. The Green Vision Newspaper explained that Herakles entered Cameroon sometime in 2009 guided by late Dr. Isiodre Timti and guised as Sithe Global Sustainable Oils Cameroon (SGSOC). It hastily went on to sign a 99-year contract with Cameroon's government for around 70,000 hectares (over 170,000 acres) in the Ndian and Kupe-Muanenguba regions. The paper explained that for the most part, Herakles was on unfriendly terms with the natives of Mundemba and Nguti from the start. The firm had cut corners with the national laws and international norms and along with these mishaps, sidelined the rightful owners of the land it very much wanted to exploit.

Colocassia esculenta puzzle remains unsolved

The Green Vision Newspaper also reported about the disease that hit the staple food crop colocassia esculenta commonly known as ibo coco. According to this paper, it is close to four years since a yet to be known disease attacked the crop in the Southwest Region and the cause of the decline of the staple has remained elusive. So far, the emergence of this disease has sparked up controversies amongst farmers and researchers. There have been different interpretations as to the origin, the name and the cause of the disease. Many are those that have linked it to acid rain or a malediction. Some researchers have likened the disease to the taro leaf blight which hit other regions of Africa given the similarities in the symptoms. As farmers wait for a solution, the prices of Ibo coco substitutes like Makabo, plantains, sweet potatoes and yams are soaring. A bunch of plantain which used to cost 2,000 francs cfa is now sold at 4,000 francs cfa. The same goes for yams and Makabo. According to this paper, despite the intensity of the disease, the Research Institutes have not been up to any meaningful research to address the problem.

Where is the 32.8 Billion for Yaounde Municipal Lake Rehabilitation?

The Green Vision Newspaper also questioned about the fate of the multi-billion contract to rehabilitate the Yaoounde Municipal Lake. According to the paper, on February 7, 2013, 32.8 billion francs cfa was signed for the rehabilitation of the eight-metre deep Yaounde Municipal Lake. The Cameroon Minister of the Economy, Planning and Regional Development, Emmanuel Nganou Djoumessi, signed for Cameroon while Marcellino Cabanas Ansorena, Spanish Ambassador to Cameroon, signed for his country. Following the billion-franc convention, it was hoped that the lake, which had become a wet grave for faceless corpses and all sorts of garbage would regain its glitter. Six months after, the lake remains a quagmire in the middle of the capital city.

Burning Desire for Charcoal scorches Cameroon' Forests

Cameroonians are burning increasing amounts of charcoal for cooking and heating, raising concerns among environmentalists about growing deforestation and carbon emissions in the country. According to The Green Vision Newspaper, the charcoal business is especially attractive to young unemployed people, and even older ones as the industry booms in Yaounde, the country's capital. "When I found out there was increasing demand for charcoal, I had to change from my vegetable business," said Evelyn Engonou, a trader in Yaounde. She made the switch four months ago, and now buys bags of charcoal from the East region which she supplies to Yaounde and Douala, Cameroon's economic capital.The growing popularity of charcoal in Cameroon is an indication of a growing appetite for a power source more reliable than the country's faltering gas and electricity supplies. Many businesses and households that formerly used gas or electricity have now switched over to using charcoal. Cameroon's lone energy supply company, AES SONEL, and gas supply utility SCDP (Societe Camerounaise de Depot Petrolier) have not been able keep pace with the energy demands of a rapidly growing urban population.

Experts fear that if the energy crisis continues unabated it could contribute to growing deforestation that could worsen climate change and lead to more severe weather.

"Charcoal is obtained from the burning of trees, and if this trend continues you can imagine the quantity of trees the country is going to lose and what impact this will have for the future," said Ebia Ndongo, Director in charge of Forestry in the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife.

3000 households adopt environmental-friendly stoves to slow deforestation

Some 3000 households in the Southwest and the Littoral Regions are now cooking with environmental friendly stoves which minimize fuel wood use tremendously. According to The Green Vision Newspaper, the use of this stove called Envirofit has not only cut down expenses on wood but has equally reduced the rate at which people used to cut down trees in the Mt Cameroon forest in Buea, SW Cameron. "With just three pieces of wood, I can cook food for my entire family. I used to fetch firewood from a nearby forest, but I just realized since I started using this stove, I visit the forest less in search of wood" A Buea based Resident said. The stove is also known to reduce the amount of smoke emitted as compared to the traditional fireside.

Compiled by Regina F. Leke

07 October 2013

Cameroon kids stand up for rhinos

Posted in News, Views 1625

Celebrating World Rhino Day

Cameroon kids call for an end to rhino killing on WRD

Kids belonging to some primary schools in Buea, SW Cameroon, have urged the world to do all it takes to stop the killing of the rhinoceros. The children made this call during celebrations marking the 2013 edition of the World Rhino Day in Buea SW Cameroon on September 19 ahead of the September 22 celebrations of the day. The commemoration was organized by the Environment for Sustainable Development Program of the Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF). It drew pupils from some primary schools around Buea who sent out powerful messages to the world on the need to protect the rhinos. Some of the messages included "If you say you love us, then stop the killing of rhinos" "Stop the killing of the rhinos, we lost them in Cameroon already, so help us save the rest". During a question and answer session these kids belonging to the age bracket 9-11 acknowledged that rhinoceros just like other wildlife species are interesting creatures which must be protected for posterity. One of the kids in the Jamadiale Nursery and Primary School Bonakanda, Nkeng Rawlings said "we love animals. We would also love to continue seeing the animals in our forests, so people should stop killing them". The kids were saddened by the fact that the rhinos got extinct in Cameroon in 2011 and used the opportunity to call on the global community to fight the killing of rhinos.

Just to note that one of the species of rhino-the Western Black rhinoceros resided primarily in Cameroon, but recent surveys have failed to locate any individuals. In 2011 it was officially declared extinct by IUCN. ERuDeF is using this opportunity to say a big thank you to all those who are putting their voices together to stop the killing of the rhino and to wish them a happy world rhino day.

By Regina Fonjia Leke

07 October 2013

Indiscriminate logging threatens extinction of Microberlinia bisulcata at Mt Cameroon forest

Posted in News, Views 1910

logs of  wood illegally exploited from the Mokoko forest Reserve

There is a risk of the globally threatened tree species Microberlinia bisulcata commonly referred to as Zebra wood or Tiger wood getting extinct in the Mokoko Forest Reserve of the Mt Cameroon area. A recent field visit carried out by a team from the Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF) reveals that the rate at which this tree is being exploited has skyrocketed. The team working for the project Conservation of threatened trees at Mt Cameroon watched with dismay tons of zebrawood sawn and extracted from this reserve which harbors the relics of this critically endangered species. The species is highly hunted and sawn by exploiters for commercial purpose. Zebra wood has beautiful stripes which give furniture made from the species attractive.

The illegal exploitation of this wood in the Mt Cameroon forest is a whole organized trade. Illegal exploiters set up camps within the reserve borders and spend weeks and months within the reserve cutting the trees. They cut down the zebra wood from the Mokoko Forest area of Ekumbe Mefako with little or no knowledge on the national and international laws governing the management of the species. Harvesting is carried out indiscrimately and this could be hazardous if measures are not put in place to curb the situation. The exploitation team usually consists of sawyers, transporters locally referred to "Bambes" who carry the sawn wood from the forest to the road side for transportation by trucks to the big markets. There is equally the main exploiter -who presumably owns the chain saws. More often than not, the head of the team already has a market for their produce; this could be local or international.

One of the Labourers who spoke to the ERuDeF team on condition of anonymity said "although the wood is reducing, it has a high demand in the local markets for furniture" According to this Labourer zebra wood will never get finish, hear him "the forest is our natural endowment from God, and would regenerate naturally when we let it fallow..."

The species is not only cut down for timber for furniture but also by farmers due to ignorance to the relevance of its high nitrogenous contents which enrich soils and render them fertile. They cut down the species in their farmlands for sunlight and to increase their farmland

This species endemic to the Mt Cameroon area was previously found in abundance within the lowland tropical forests of Mt Cameroon at Southern Bakundu, Mokoko Forest reserves but statistics have revealed it has reduced by more than half in the last five years due to the wanton exploitation of the species.

Even though ERuDeF has been working very closely with communities to raise nurseries for these critically endangered species at the community nurseries of Bova I, Bakingili, Bomana and Bafia, the bone of contention is what becomes the fate of the relics of these threatened species if propagated? If they would be cut down randomly again given that even the trees which are supposedly within protected areas are cut down with no fear. Many are those who think more education needs to be done and the Cameroon government needs to punish those involved in the illegal trade.

By Asa'a Lemawah

07 October 2013

ERuDeF launches wildlife book

Posted in News, Views 1512

Cover page of book-The Splendour of the Lebialem Wildlife

After working for the conservation of wildlife in the Lebialem area for over a decade, the Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF) is launching a new book titled "The Splendour of the Lebialem Wildlife". The book, authored by the Environmental Education Program Manager Mahah Vladimire takes the reader into the world of the rich animal diversity of the Lebialem rainforest and equally the threats faced by these animals.

Speaking about the book, the author said "For a couple of years now I have been involved in educating pupils and students in the Lebialem highlands on the significance of conserving their beautiful forest area and how they can protect it. I have often been thrilled by their increasing dedication and contribution toward the conservation of the environment" She explained that the pupils shared very fascinating stories about the lifestyles and myths of some animals in the Lebialem rainforest which motivated her to write the book.

The book has interesting tales of animals such as The Green Monkey and Bush Baby amongst others. It narrates the everyday lifestyle of the Chimpanzees in the forest. In a dramatic fashion, the book explores how the critically endangered Cross River Gorilla tries to fight back the human threats it faces and also explains the life of the Forest African Elephant which is so big, yet so vulnerable.

The stories in this book also bring out the real characteristics of the animals and would help the reader understand the myth and realities of these species and equally see more reasons why these animals must be protected. It is a must read!

By Regina Fonjia Leke

07 October 2013

Statistics reveal increase in population of Chimpanzee & Elephants in Mak-Betchou Forest

Posted in News, Views 1516

Statistics reveal increase in population of Chimpanzee & Elephants in Mak-Betchou Forest

There has been an interesting development in the population of the Nigeria-Cameroon Chimpazees and elephants in the Mak-Betchou forest, Lebialem Highlands of the SW Region of Cameroon. This information was uncovered by a survey carried out on chimpanzees, gorillas and elephants in Mak-Betchou and Tofala rainforests between June and July, 2013 indicated. The study, conducted by a student from Université Paul Sabatier Toulouse III, France, Léo Pierre and a team of Biologists from the Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF) indicates that the Mak-Betchou forest contains a large and increasing population of the Cameroon-Nigeria chimpanzee, the African elephant, drills and possibly the Cross River gorilla.

After spending close to two months tracking and collecting GPS coordinates of animal species in the Tofala and Mak-betchou forest blocks, the team of Researchers reported 133 chimpanzee signs in Mak-betchou including 106 tree nests and 1 resting nest, 12 tracks, 1 play ground site and 13 vocalization occurrences. In Tofala, they reported 112 chimpanzee signs with a total of 54 tree nests and 11 resting nests, 18 tracks, 4 play ground sites, 23 feeding signs, 2 foot prints and 2 vocalizations.

"With an encounter rate of 3.69 signs of chimps per kilometres, relatively higher than most forest blocks studied in Cameroon, the chimpanzee population seems very elevate in Mak-Betchou" Leo Pierre said. "This forest appears like a hotspot for the Cameroon-Nigeria chimpanzee and have to be protected as soon as possible" the team of researchers recommended.

Léo Pierre and ERuDeF Biologists also reported having seen 3 individual elephants in Mak-betchou recording 45 other signs like dung, feeding sites, foot prints, tracks, and rest site with a total encounter rate of 1.333 elephant's signs per kilometres. According to this team, the African elephant seem to prefer the flat topography in the valley which runs between 400m and 500m of altitude and with many rivers with a co-habitation with chimps possible only between 400m and 600m altitude. Léo in his report, said given that the average encounter rate of ten protected areas in Cameroon is 0.277, with only the Banyang Mbo Wildlife Sanctuary having an encounter rate of up to 1.45, "the population of elephant in the Mak-Betchou forest is highly significant"

"For gorillas, 58 signs were recorded in the Tofala forest block including 5 tree nests, 5 ground nest, 1 track, 1 dung, 45 feeding sign and 1 foot print with an encounter rate of 3,412 signs of gorilla per kilometer. Meanwhile two clues were recorded in Mak- Betchou with our field guide affirming that he had made two direct observations of gorilla in this forest" the student researcher from France reported.

During the close to two months research period, the team of researchers said they came across some new signs of other animal species including 6 foot prints, 5 feeding signs and 2 tracks of bush pig; one vocalization sign of a monkey and a foot print, feeding sign and dung for duiker in the Mak-betchou forest while18 monkey signs were recorded with 6 feeding signs, 8 vocalizations of Mona monkey (Cercopithecus mona), 3 vocalizations of Preuss‟s monkey and 1 direct observation of Preuss‟s monkey were recorded in the Tofala rainforest with two foot prints of duiker and 2 dung piles of Hyrax also recorded.

Human Threats

The survey indicates that 12 hunting tracks, 10 gun shells, 6 gun shots and 4 hunter's seats were recorded during in the Mak-betchou rainforest while 9 new farms, 2 hunting tracks, 5 gun shells, 2 hunting huts, 3 traps, 1 feeding sign and 2 hunter's seats were recorded in Tofala.

These statistics according to the team of researchers indicate that hunting is the predominant aspect of human pressure in the Mak- Betchou rainforest while forest conversion to farmland is predominant in Tofala.

By Bertrand Shancho Ndimuh

07 October 2013

IBiNS Trainee grabs first stage of TVe Biomovies 2013

Posted in News, Views 1412

Ibo Coco disease, the winning script

A Trainee of the Institute of Biodiversity and Non-Profit Studies (IBiNS) has succeeded in the first stage of the TVE biomovies the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development Category. Ms Blessing Tata, specializing in Agroforestry won this first stage in August following the announcement by the organisers. Out of a total of 565 proposals from all over the globe submitted for the competition, two were selected (one from IBiNS) in this category to produce films that will easily and efficiently communicate issues about the environment.

The script tells the story of a staple food crop Colocasia esculenta commonly referred to as ibo coco that has disappeared from the South West Region of Cameroon. In the form of a drama, the film condemns poor agricultural practices that have led to soil degradation including the use of chemical fertilizers, herbicides and bush burning amongst others. It proceeds to recommend the planting of nitrogen fixing species like Acacia, Calliandra, Leucaena etc for soil fertility. The film states emphatically that environmental degradation is a call for concern for all, from the young to the old, the poor and the rich, the farmer to the researcher. This is given the fact that everybody is affected directly or indirectly

Reacting to this first stage victory Ms Blessing said "It is such an honour for my script to have been selected from hundreds of scripts. I owe it all to the rich training I acquired from IBiNS". She explained that without the professional training which triggered creativity, her science background would not have permitted her to come up with the script. "I am not a Journalist, neither am I a writer, but my training at IBiNS has given me the possibility to be diverse". Ms Blessing went on. The films (14 of them) will be screened at the Climate Conference in Warsaw in December this year and the winner will be announced by December 19th 2013.

TVE biomovies is an annual film competition now in its fourth year to raise awareness on environmental issues.

The Institute of Biodiversity and Non-Profit Studies (IBiNS) is anon-profit professional educational establishment dedicated to the holistic study of the environment. IBiNS is the training and capacity building Division of the Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF).

By Bertrand N. Sancho

07 October 2013

Proposed Tofala goes wireless

Posted in News, Views 1237

Advent of mobile network in Tofala raises hope for conservation

Hello my friend, now that we have network, tell your friends in the communities to stop chasing us. Let’s program a meeting immediately the minister signs the decree to protect us. We have the right to live too. Na weti ????????

Villages that form part of the proposed Tofala Wildlife Sanctuary are now connected to a wireless telephone network. The hitherto remote settlement whose forest habours some of the world's protected species was in mid September connected to one of the existing Mobile Telephone Network companies in Cameroon, popularly known as MTN. This historic and ground breaking connection came shortly after the official opening of the antenna by officials of the telecommunication company. This development was highly saluted by the villagers of the entire Wabane Sub Division under which Tofala belongs. This is given the fact that they can now communicate with their loved ones from far and wide. In a telephone communication with the D.O of Wabane Mr. Moni Innocent, on Wednesday September 18, 2013, he confirmed the reality of the network's presence as he was talking live from Bechati . In a follow up discussion with the Brigade Commander for the Gendarmerie Post Bechati, approximately 90% of Wabane sub division now has access to the network as he spoke from his office in Bechati.

It would be important to note that the introduction of this mobile network would have sustained impact not only on the socio-economic development of the communities but also on a sustainable and participatory conservation effort in the landscape. The presence of mobile network connection implies that decisions taken at the central coordination unit can easily reach the grassroots for implementation, and vice versa as events happenings on the ground can easily be communicated for policy enactment. Improved information flow also has the ability to increase efficiency in the management of bio diversity. Conservation best practices can also be shared easily.

By Forbe Hodu

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