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08 November 2013

ERuDeF Launches Phase II of the Project: Conservation of threatened treesat Mt Cameroon

Posted in News, Views 1506

Participants pose after the launching of phase two of project

Supported by UK Charity Fauna & Flora International/Global Tree Campaign Program, the Environment & Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF) has officially launched the second phase of the project to conserve and restore threatened trees in the Mt. Cameroon area.The launching took place on October 28, at the Southwest Regional Delegation of Forestry and Wildlife, MINFOF, Buea.

This second phase will run from October 2013 to August 2016.

The five-year project, which started in August 2011 and is being carried out by ERuDeF in collaboration with MINFOF South West, entered phase two with over 10,000 new seedlings envisaged in secured areas in the Mt. Cameroon area.

The project covers the Mt. Cameroon area including the adjacent lowland forest of Mokoko Forest Reserve, proposed forest reserves of Onge and Mabeta Moliwe, where most of these threatened trees are found.

Project Coordinator, Asa'a Lemawah, said they aim at inducing a 50% reduction in illegal logging and building the capacity of at least four collaborative communities within the Mt. Cameroon area on sylvi-cultural techniques by 2016.

Asa'a enumerated successes of the first phase including the raising of awareness on project activities and its relevance to members of over 21 communities and other stakeholders, the identification of 17 threatened tree species out of 26 of the IUCN list and establishment of community nurseries at Bomana, Bakingili, Bafia, Bova I and Bonjare with each nursery having a total of about 1.200 seedlings of the threatened trees.

The Coordinator said the project has facilitated the understanding of threatened trees within the Mt. Cameroon National Park.

"Equally, communities which were hitherto ignorant have been sensitized and they now understand that some trees are threatened and need to be conserved. These people have gotten involved in the process and now take care of their community nurseries," Asa'a said.

She said after raising trees and planting them in the wild, the forest adjacent community becomes the owner of the trees.

"The trees will be planted in the farms along the buffer zones of the park and some at the borders of the park to support the need of fuel wood for local people. Farmers will exploit wood from their farms and will not have to invade the national park for wood," said Asa'a. She said the project will equally help farmers increase their income through sustainable exploitation of non-forest timber products (NTFPs), adding that seeds of trees like the afrostyrax commonly referred to as "country onions", a valued condiment in the Cameroon cuisine, would be harvested and sold, thus boosting income of local people.

According to Asa'a, they also raised a 20,000 capacity central tree nursery and community nurseries where a total of over 25.000 of seven threatened tree species have been nursed and will be planted out in natural habitats within buffer zones of the Mt. Cameroon National Park and its borders.

The South West Regional Delegate of Forestry and Wildlife, Eben Samuel Ebai, commended these achievements and suggested that many more communities be included in the second phase of the project.

Speaking to The Green Vision, ERuDeF CEO, Louis Nkembi, said the project: "Conservation of Threatened Trees at Mt. Cameroon" was developed with the support of major partners like Fauna & Flora International and Global Trees Campaign with a vision to increase the capacity of local stakeholders in the Mt. Cameroon forest area to conserve and restore threatened trees.

Nkembi said the project target was to raise 30.000 seedlings resulting from the fact that Mt. Cameroon was recently identified as a priority for threatened trees with 15 of the country's critically endangered trees like Microberlinia bisulcata (zebrawood), Entandrophragma (mahogany), Prunus Africana (Pygeum) found in the mountain area, which are highly threatened by farmland acquisition, logging and hunting.

"It is in this light that ERuDeF is working with MINFOF regional collaborators to promote the conservation of threatened trees within the Mt. Cameroon area," the ERuDeF boss said.

Meanwhile, the MINFOF Regional Delegate noted that the depletion of biodiversity in the country via indiscriminate harvesting started in 1972 with focus on Prunus Africana. Then just two years ago, the Chinese developed interest in Bobinga.

"1.5 cubic metres of Bobinga was selling at a whooping 1.5 million FCFA cash in Douala. The trend is now moving to the critically endangered zebrawood and there has been massive exploitation in the Mt. Cameroon area," Eben Ebai said.

The Delegate, therefore, called on all stakeholders to intensify efforts and save this wood.

He equally advised that illegal loggers be brought on board so that they can seek ways to reforest Mt. Cameroon's deforested areas.

By Bertrand N. Shancho

08 November 2013

Mak-Betchou Forest Block In State Of Deforestation

Posted in News, Views 1494

Deforestation of Mak-Betchou puts lives of some rare species of plants and animals in danger

The biodiversity hotspot Mak-Betchou forest block located in the Lebialem Highlands of South West Cameroon is facing an unprecedented deforestation by the adjacent local populations. Large areas of the forest are cleared for cocoa, coffee and palm plantations. This anthropogenic activity has tremendous effect on the biodiversity of the Mak-Betchou Forest Block.

Deforestation it would be noted is one of the major causes of biodiversity loss in many tropical forest landscapes. Deforestation involves the continuous conversion of forest to the remnant of forest patches set in a matrix of non-forest vegetation. The altered microclimate becomes unsuitable for certain species by reducing the fragment size further, increasing mortality rates near the edge and reducing recruitment to their populations. The tropical forest ecosystem is often characterized by a heavy dependency on mutualistic species interactions for its stability. Many plant species in the tropical forests are reliant on animals as agents of dispersal for either pollen or seeds or both, if habitat fragmentation causes the extinction of certain important pollinating or seed-dispersing animals, this severely limits regeneration of rare plant species.

If nothing is done to stop the rate of deforestation in the Mak-Betchou forest block, abundant of species will become occasional rare, rare become very rare and very rare becomes extinct.

Mak-Betchou is a forest block located in the Lebialem Highlands of South West Cameroon. The highland runs from 180m to 2510m above sea level on the western side of Mount Bamboutous along the Cameroon mountain chain and falls within the equatorial rainforest zone characterized by two major seasons; the dry season (November-February) and the wet season (March-October). The annual rainfall recorded in the area is as high as 3500mm. The climate is characterized at high altitudes by low temperatures, low rainfalls, high relative humidity and the mountain is often covered in clouds.

The high annual rainfall may have given rise to the high diversity of plants and animal species in this area. The forest block contains African forest elephant (Loxondonta africana cyclotis), Cross River gorillas (Gorilla gorilla diehli), Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes eliotti), Drills (Mandrillus leucophaeus), 18 globally threatened birds including the Bannerman's Turaco and Banded Wattle-eye as well as a number of endangered reptiles, insects, amphibians and butterflies.

The Mak-Betchou forest block act as a major stepping stone for the movement of wildlife to other adjacent protected areas such as the Banyan-Mbo Sanctuary in the west, the proposed Tofala Hill Wildlife Sanctuary in north and the Mone Wildlife Reserve and Takamande National park in the far-north. There is therefore need for concerted effort to fight deforestation in this zone.

By Enokenwa Allen Tabi

08 November 2013

The Environment and sustainable development in the Cameroon press

Posted in News, Views 1892

A Review of the 4th Edition of The Green Vision Newspaper

The Environment and sustainable development in the Cameroon press

 Korup National Park Declines as Gov't Drags Feet

In the October edition of The Green Vision Newspaper, the paper explores the deteriorating situation of one of the richest national parks in the country-Korup National Park. According to The Green Vision Newspaper, fingers are pointing at government for the deteriorating performance and management of the conservation hot spot and tourist destination. The paper reports that until some eight months ago, the Korup National Park straddling Mundemba in Ndian and Eyumojock in Manyu Divisions in the South West Region, seemed to be functioning fairly well.

The national park started a tailspin when anti-poaching patrols were cut down, fake cash receipts issued against false financial claims set in, The Green Vision has learnt.

"The management of Korup is failing and corruption is biting into the park's management. Normally, eco-guards are supposed to go for anti-poaching patrols for 20 days of the month and are supposed to receive 3000 frs cfa each as daily subsistence. But for the last eight months, since a new conservator was installed in December 2012, this has not been the case," reads a letter eco-guard Obellayukasong Darling Johnson wrote to the Programme for Sustainable Management of Natural Resources, PSMNR, Buea, a copy of which The Green Vision procured

Bomboko Forest Reserve Falls to Encroachers

The Green Vision Newspaper equally reports about one of Cameroon's oldest forest reserves which has been abandoned by government and fallen into the hands of encroachers. According to the paper, the more than 500 hectares of forest reserve could have been saved if the government had not retrenched most of the workers in the 90s. Over 1000 infiltrators including farmers have practically elbowed out government in the Bomboko Forest Reserve in Mbonge Subdivision, SW Cameroon. The encroachers barked the trees, burnt them down, use chemicals to kill weed and planted cocoyams, cassava, plantains and other cash crops. The reserve that was created in 1939 provided employment for over 1500 workers who were gradually laid off. The Green Vision reports that what sealed the fate of the reserve began in the nineties when government retrenched most of the workers and left only a few forest guards to control the reserve. The natives and the population around who needed farmland plunged into the reserve and started farming. The Chief of Bomboko recalled having grown up and met the forest as a virgin forest. The forest had an immense wildlife population with lions and elephants but today, the animals are no longer there. The depletion of the forest the chief lamented has brought untold hardship and lack of water.

Poverty, Unemployment Drive wanton destruction of mangroves

The Green Vision reports that between 1980 and 2006, the country lost 28% of its mangrove forests to desperate warriors who cut them to survive. The paper explains that the harvesters go down deep into the creeks of the Tiko shores in the SW Region, cut the trees and haul them by canoe to the beaches for splitting into firewood for sale. The harvesters explained that they are aware of the negative impacts of cutting down these trees but they don't have a choice because it is their source of livelihood. Mangroves are supposed to contribute in protecting Cameroon from rising sea levels, floods and global warming. In a bid to intensify the conservation of marine biodiversity and reduce the depletion of the country's mangrove ecosystem,, the Minister of Environment, Nature Protection for sustainable development launched a 3billion frs cfa project for the conservation and sustainable management of mangroves ranging from Tiko creeks to Rio del Rey.

Muyuka Farmers Cry Out For 420-million Cassava Factory

The Green Vision equally takes the reader into the plight of Cassava Farmers in Muyuka Subdivision who were jilted by government of a 420-million Frs cfa cassava factory. According to the paper, Cassava Farmers in Muyuka, Fako Division, SW Cameroon had long given up trying to get government to build them a factory three years ago with a FIDA (International Fund for the Development of Agriculture) loan of 420 million frs cfa. The farmers have raised their voices once more urging government to act and make the cassava transforming factory not just a dream but a reality. The Farmers explained that once they were told a grant of 420million had been granted through the Cameroon's Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Development to construct a factory, they knew finally they were going to be relieved from the burden of manual labour. The cassava factory which never got to the people was going to have mechanical peelers that could peel cassava, a grater component, cassava presser, pre-cleaner, rotary garri fryers and could crush 14 tons of garri a day. News of the coming of this factory caused the farmers to extend their farms with cassava which eventually got rotten. Yet three years on, the Farmers have not seen any machine and the land on which the factory was supposed to be constructed has been given out to a petrol station called BOCOM.

 

Compiled by Regina Fonjia Leke

08 November 2013

Ban on Exploitation of Bubinga Wood Makes Zigana(Microbelinia bisulcata) Next Target

Posted in News, Views 1321

Need for more concerted effort

Recently there has been a sharp rise in the demand for the threatened tree species Microberlinia bisulcata in the Cameroon timber market following a recent ban by the Cameroon government on the highly sought timber species Guibourtia mannii commonly known as Bubinga. Bubinga, is used in high-end furniture, drum shells and in both acoustic and electric guitars for its figure and hardness. The local and international demand for Zingana has thus, become alarming. Sources reveal that in the last two to three years, a cubic metre of Bubinga sold at a whooping 1.5million FCFA in Douala. This brisk business almost led to the extinction of the species in the Mt Cameroon area. Recent survey has now demonstrated that the trend in demand especially by the Chinese has moved away from Bubinga now to Microbelinia bisulcata commonly known as Zigana. Remnants of Zingana found in the Mokoko Forest Reserve and adjacent forests are being extracted wantonly to make up for this gap. These are sold to international markets which are in dire need of the timber sawn from this species. ERuDeF, together with her foreign partners Fauna and Flora International (FFI), Global Trees Campaign (GTC) and the South West Regional services of Forestry and Wildlife (MINFOF) have been working together within the Mt Cameroon area where this species is found since 2011 to ensure that the status of the species is restored through propagation and restocking of the species in the wild. With over 17,000 threatened trees seedlings being propagated in nurseries within the area by ERuDeF, these species will be planted out in the buffer zones around the Mt Cameroon National Park. The call for concern however remains on the sustainability of these trees when eventually planted out in the wild. It becomes very imperative for the government to consider measures of reducing or putting an end to the extinction of threatened species.

Recently, in most countries, timber obtaining policies have been considered and implemented by public agencies, trade associations, and private companies in many traditional tropical timber markets. In order to address public concerns about the environmental credentials of products made from timber, criteria is added into the decision making process. Many purchasers are demanding that timber products come from sustainable, or legal sources that can be traced, in order to maintain credibility with public opinion. These types of policies have significant implications for tropical timber suppliers if fully implemented and need to be considered as well.

There is a therefore a dire need for tropical timber producing countries such as Cameroon, to understand the human resources, cost implications and possible benefits that could be derived from the implementation of adequate measures. These should meet the criteria set in procurement policies in tropical timber importing countries.

More than 60 percent of Cameroon's rainforests are under management systems that emphasize sustainability, yet further reform is needed. Deeper recognition of the customary rights of all people who depend on Cameroon's forests, regardless of ethnicity, is vital. Cameroon needs qualified eco-investors to sustain conservation and diminish reliance on timber production.

By Asa'a Lemawah

08 November 2013

Lea Nature supports ERuDeF reforestation program in Magha Community(Bamumbu Village)

Posted in News, Views 1309

15000 trees to restore Magha village degraded landscape

La-natureFrench Charity Lea Nature has granted the Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF) 3000 Euros to kick off the pilot phase of the reforestation of the degraded landscapes of Magha Community (Bamumbu Village) in SW Cameroon, by planting about 15000 trees. The decision was made known on September 5, 2013, following a selection process by a Selection Committee of the organization. The project consists the planting of over 15000 trees for the regeneration of the disappearing forest of Magha village.

The project will equally permit the planting of indigenous plant species in the area such as Salix ledermannii Seemen , Prunus africana ( Hook.f. ) Kalkman or Nuxia congesta R.Br. ex Fresen.

DSCN8756

 

 

Deforested Magha landscape to be reforested

 

A total of ten species will be planted which will help in

greening Magha village as well as protect key water catchments. It will equally help to ameliorate the income of villagers given that some of the plants have commercial value. Economic and medicinal trees such as Prunus africana would generate income for the local populations and at the same time permit them to contribute in the reforestation program. The regeneration site for the project would be the area that suffered a massive landslide in 2003 claiming 23 lives and leaving hundreds homeless.

By the end of the year, a presentation to the Chief and elites of Magha will be organized to assess the success of the project and to ascertain how much the people have benefitted from it. ERuDeF is thankful to Groupe Léa Nature for this support. This year, Group Lea Nature celebrates 20 years of commitment to the protection of the environment. The group works with different brands including cosmetics, food, health and diet notably Jardin BIO'logique, Floressance also known as Nature System. All these brands sell products from organic matter and they believe in fair trade. A portion of the profits from sales allows Lea Nature Foundation to celebrate their anniversary by planting 200,000 trees worldwide.

This support would help ERuDeF's efforts in reforesting the degraded landscape of Magha however, ERuDeF looks forward for support to sensitize the communities and also to create a community forest in Magha .

 

By Manuella Huque

08 November 2013

Palm Oil Mills Helping Conservation Efforts in the Lebialem Highlands

Posted in News, Views 1506

One of the five installed modern palm oil mills in the Tofala area

Over 200 families have benefited from the semi-industrial palm oil mills installed by the Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF) as an alternative source of livelihood to support conservation in the forest areas of the Lebialem Highlands. The oil mills have helped the local people to save significant amount of time and energy that characterised the traditional palm oil producing method. This was uncovered by a recent survey conducted by ERuDeF's Livelihood and Economic Development Program. The survey equally indicated that palm oil production has increased on average by 50% as processing using machines increases output. Family incomes have consequently increased on average by about 50% as well following rise in output. This increase in income has had significant and direct implications on standards of living, ability to pay school fees, hospital bills, and other utilities for the wellbeing of the household as one farmer explained. "With the installation of a palm oil mill in Besali, I realised that the quantity and quality of oil I produce has improved and this has equally raised my income. I have been able to send my children to school with less difficulty" Ms. Francisca Nkem said. The oil mills have also helped to reduce stress from female family members who hitherto transported palm fruits by head load and lost much energy through smashing nuts for the collection of crude palm oil.

On the environmental front, the level of awareness of the communities has increased by at least 20% following conservation education as rationale for the installation of the palm oil mills. Following the signing of a community conservation agreement dating back to 2011, a significant portion of inhabitants of villages adjacent the proposed Tofala Hill Wildlife Sanctuary have shunned hunting practices and are now sharing information on nature protection freely to others, moving away from unfriendly environmental practices such as bush burning, avoiding application of chemical fertilizers and introducing agro-forestry species to their agricultural practices, etc. This change of attitude is further confirmed by the reducing number of human signs recorded in the core conservation habitats of the critically endangered wildlife. Thus, palm oil mills while providing enough incentive for villagers to stay off the core wildlife habitats, have also contributed to the socio economic development of the enclave communities.

Just to note that following the discovery of a sub population of the critically endangered cross river gorilla in the then Bechati-Besali-Fossimondi forest, and now proposed TOFALA Hill Wildlife Sanctuary, ERuDeF launched a series of joint conservation and sustainable community development efforts in the landscape that included the installation of palm oil mills to benefit local communities. Two years on, ERuDeF has donated 5 palm oil mills and the impact of the mills has been accessed on both the wellbeing of the local population and on the conservation of the cross river gorilla and other primates in the landscape

By Forbe Hodu

08 November 2013

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

Posted in News, Views 1557

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 1642

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 1592

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

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