Bakassi Year 2 Plans: National Evaluation Meeting of the Participative Integrated Ecosystem Service Management Plan

Following the invitation of the Minister of Environment, Nature Protection and Sustainable Development (MINEPDED), a technical coordination meeting was held on the 03rd May 2019at the conference hall of Afrik Hotel located in Douala. The meeting was chaired by the project Director (president) accompanied by the project National Coordinator PINESMAP-BPCE, Focal point for GEF, Focal point for Mangroves and a host of members of the technical working group in the presence of partners NGOs (ERuDeF, CHEDE Cooperatives, CWCS, OPED, FIDEPE and Cam – Eco)

The president in his opening address welcomed all those present. The project director also  termed the meeting as an extra ordinary session for project partners – technical partners, Project Management Unit (PMU), Technical Working Group (TWG) and the project administration, to investigate  issues facing the project after year one and derive solutions in order to achieve the project’s objectives. The aim of the agenda was to address challenges faced and examine the way forward. He reiterated that the meeting was a technical one to examine issues in order to progress with the project. The following thematic areas were addressed in each partner NGO’s presentation: Activities Planned, Activities Realized, Completion Rate, Principal Results, Challenges, Lessons Learned and planned activities for 2019.

The meeting rounded up on a positive note- partner NGOs promised to push forth their activities to overcome the challenges identified in order to achieve the objectives of the project.

ERuDeF: Facilitating Community Development in Lebialem through the Rain Forest Trust Project

As a result of the launch of the Rainforest Trust Mak-Betchou project in October 2016 and the Rainforest Trust project in Tofala in January 2017, a staff member from ERuDeF was sent to the Lebialem landscape to execute sensitization, identification and prioritization efforts of village-based conservation livelihood projects. These projects are to be developed through value-chain cassava production and palm oil. The aim was to aid improve the livelihoods of those living in the Lebialem landscape by changing their agricultural practices from subsistence to commercial agriculture. Over 25 villages in the Njoagwi-Fotabong III Esooh-Attah forest bloc and Tofala forest bloc in the Lebialem landscape have been sensitized. In addition priority projects identified are likely to be developed in those respective villages with technical assistance from ERuDeF.

This technical assistance mentioned will take the form of marketing research, provision of beehives to the various villages, training of villagers on the projects chosen, machinery for transformation of farm produce and micro credit provision through the Community Conservation Social Enterprise Development (CoCoSED) Initiative.

Each village was asked to identify five village-based conservation livelihoods projects in order of importance as well as which  could yield economic benefits and conserve biodiversity. This exercise was executed in all villages adjacent to Mak-Betchou and Tofala forest blocs in the Lebialem Landscape. Common projects identified were as follows; cassava production, bee keeping, piggery, palm oil production and maize farming.

These projects identified are quiet economically viable and if developed, will bring sustainable development to villages and improve livelihoods. Sustainable development will in effect reduce pressure on the forest from the local community; consequently conserving biodiversity.

The locals of these villages were incredibly excited for this opportunity ERuDeF has brought to their door steps and have thus promised full collaboration for effective and successful implementation of the CoCoSED Initiative. They also expressed their gratitude to ERuDeF  for igniting  hope within them for the  future development of their villages.

These projects will also aid in reducing pressure on the forest thus leading to biodiversity conservation.

Small-holder Farmer with Entrepreneurial Mindset Embraces Forest Garden Practices in Bakassa, Haut-Nkam Division

Nitcheu Jean Baptiste, a small holder farmer in Bakassa, passionate about agriculture, has achieved prosperity from his farm since he adopted Forest Garden practices.

Forest gardening is a low-maintenance sustainable plant-based food production and agro forestry system on woodland ecosystems, incorporating fruit and nut trees, shrubs, herbs, vines and perennial vegetables which have yields directly useful to humans.

TREES FOR THE FUTURE, in partnership with ERuDeF (Department of Agroforestry), have introduced the Forest Garden Model across all landscapes they work in, within Cameroon. The purpose is to plant trees that will help in restoration and environmental conservation, increase food crop profits and income levels of smallholder farmers. Bakassa is a community in one of this landscapes in which framers are practicing the Forest Garden system of farming.

Nitcheu Jean, one of these farmers implementing this practice, grows crops such as maize, beans, cocoyams, vegetables, tomatoes, spices, fruit trees (pear, passion fruit), acacia, leucaena  and neem, on his farm. All of which, he aligns in a pattern that suits the forest garden model. His farm is a perfect example of what this model resembles.

Being passionate about Agriculture with an entrepreneurial mindset, Jean Baptiste uses plastic cups to nurse tomato cuttings.

I use white plastic cups to multiply tomato cuttings. Usually, I cut the cuttings, dip them in water, put them in plastic cups and cover with white plastic. After two weeks, I transplant the tomato cuttings. I also perform the same practice for pepper but the difference is that I nurse the seeds directly into the plastic cup“, said Nitcheu Jean-Baptiste.

We’ve discovered that this method is economical as people demand tomatoes /pepper throughout the year”, He added.

The major challenges he encounters are those of pests (insects) that destroy crops and as well as the lack of consistency in water supply.

This practice serves as a source of income as he generates healthy profits from it. Mr. Jean Baptiste gains additional income from pears, bananas, passion fruit, spices, beans, maize, coco yams he has on his farm. Medicinal trees such as Acacia aid in improving soil fertility and retaining water content on his farm, thus increasing productivity.

New Strategy For the Department of Economic Development (DED) to Impact ERuDeF Landscape Restoration

The Department of Economic Development (DED) of ERuDeF has taken on a new role; serving as a think-tank department. This new approach seeks to study different projects per landscape and propose them to global economic investors.

The aim of the Economic and financial analysis of landscape restoration, is to improve the sustainable management of biodiversity for each of the eleven (11) landscapes in which ERuDeF operates. This restoration process is executed through human welfare development and reduction of human pressure on key biodiversity targets. It is a two year initiative per landscape with three main implementation phases:

The first phase includes the prioritization survey, to determine the economic and financial analysis of five (5) identified economic trees product; together with the cost of the establishment of community based foundations and microfinance in each landscape. The second phase of the project includes all steps relevant for the establishment of a community enterprise through the identification of public private partnership support. The third phase includes the project implementation phases in each landscape and the sustainability strategy.

The perfect implementation of this holistic approach is feasible through the Public Private Partnership Initiative (PPPI).  This initiative is set up to support conservation issues with focus on households within the community.

The public-private partnership design in this new initiative, seeks to economically and financially empower households in biodiversity hotspots in order to fight hunger, create wealth and jobs, eradicate poverty, sustainably manage the natural environment as well as reduce the gender gap. The partnership uses the circular and integrated business approach as a solution to create a resilient local economy.

Market Gardening: Target for Crime and Insecurity in Mt. Bamboutos Areas

Market gardening, that employs more than 80% of the rural population of  the Mt. Bamboutos area and contributes greatly to the country’s per capital income, has been causing social insecurity in the rural communities. These mal practices include nocturnal harvestingof crops on farms, stealing of farm inputs, burgling of storage houses for cash crops, and land conflicts. These practices stem from degraded agricultural soils, lack of wetland positions to cultivate during  dry seasons, livestock grazing, price hikes in farm inputs( such as fertilizers and manure) and poverty. These have led to a decline in production volumes (food insecurity), destruction of livestock, crops, houses, and loss of human lives in villages such as Nkongle, Pinyin, Mbelenka, Atsualah, Maghah,  Mbei, Njong, all at Mt. Bamboutos area.

Market gardening is a farming practice which entails the cultivation of highly perishable crops that are consumed and or transformed within a relatively short period of time. The farming system , which has been practiced since the 1980s and is now practiced in the Mt. Bambutous area, is responding to the decline in prices of coffee and the resulting economic crisis in Cameroon. It is practiced all year round mostly around the high lava plateau during the rainy season, as well as in wetlands, during the dry season. During the rainy season, market gardening is economical and less strenuous as it requires minimal inputs and labor. A major that attributes to less stress to market gardening during the wet season is the  availability of water for crops ; thus requiring farmers to not need watering cans, sprinklers, and water pumps or hired laborers. Due to this, most farmers participate in farming practices during this wet season. The dry season however, is characterized by intensive application of inputs such as pesticides, fertilizers, and the use of genetically modified seedlings, to increase production alongside widespread use of irrigation waters. Consequently, only rich farmers are able to participate in farming during the dry season while those who cannot afford to are excluded from production and become vulnerable to crime. The communities involved in this farming practice include: Pinyin, Njong, Baligham,  Mmuock Leteh,  Fosimondi, Bamumbu, Santa Mbei and Lebialem at the Mt. Bamboutos area. Some market garden crops which are grown include; carrots (Dancus carrota), irish potatoes (Solanum tuberosum), cabbage (Brassica Oleraceae), Leeks (Allium porrum) and celery (Apian graviolens).

The farming system is highly beneficial to the livelihoods of the communities involved. Research shows that market gardens employ 80% of the rural populations on a yearly basis. It is mostly practiced by youths between 18-35 years of age. The committed communities in the farming practice have won major prizes in potatoes (first), carrots (first), and cabbage (second) amongst others during the 2011 edition of the National Agro-Pastoral shows in Cameroon. Production is executed in large quantities and sold all over the country, with some exported to many other countries in Africa. Examples of the latter are Irish potatoes which are exported to Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and Ghana.

Market gardening, being the most surviving farming practice in the area, has recently been regarded as a target for crime and insecurity of the 30000 people living in the area. This correlation is due to the high population density and the ongoing pressure on land. For instance, there are about 325 persons per km² in Mmuock Leteh, 295 persons per km² in Fosimondi, 385 persons per km² in Pinyin, and 305 persons per km² in Santa which have aggravated tension over land and opened confrontation between villages. It is important to note that insecurity in these areas is mostly caused by unemployed youths who act out their frustration, stemming from the economic situation of the country (unemployment rate of 9.3 per cent, underemployment rate 68.8 per cent) by participating in theft and the fight for farm lands. Thus, the high insecurity rate at Mt. Bamboutos is attributed to poverty.

Introducing Agro-forestry techniques will promote food security and employment, thereby economically sustaining at least 75% of market gardeners at the Mt. Bamboutos area.

Mount Oku: A Veritable Biodiversity Hotspot

Mount Oku, with a height of 3,000 meters, is the second-tallest mountain along the Cameroon Volcanic Line, which begins as a string of islands in the Gulf of Guinea and continues inland along the border of Cameroon and Nigeria.

Oku itself is situated in the Western High Plateau, an inland region of the chain that is of particular interest to researchers. This is due to many of the dormant volcanoes hosting unique species, which are kept, separate from their relatives in pockets of high-elevation rainforest. Within the past 15 years however, Mount Oku has begun to receive special attention within this volcanic group.

‘In the past, this area was conserved by Birdlife International who aimed to conserve forest birds found only on Mount Oku,’ said Blackburn, a UK based amphibian biologist. However, recent work by amphibian biologists on Mount Oku, shows that new species have been discovered and described, including quite a number of frogs that are found only on Mount Oku or very near to the mountain.

In fact, of the 50 amphibian species currently thought to inhabit Mount Oku, five – six, if the newly described Phrynobatrachus is indeed a new species, amphibians are endemic;seven are endemic to the Western Highland Plateau.

Mount Oku is unique, in part, as it possesses a particular quality that many other mountains lack: a crater lake. One frog species, the Lake Oku clawed frog, (Xenopus longipes) is found only in that crater lake, and another, the Lake Oku puddle frog (Phrynobatrachus njiomock) is found only in the forest around the lake. This rainforest, with a high summit and grasslands at the peak, makes Mount Oku a unique site within Cameroon as it contains a large host of endemic species.

The amphibians on the mountain are threatened by a cocktail of danger, including deforestation, climate change, pesticide use, and over-exploitation. There has also been an increase in chytrid fungus on the mountain in recent years.

Some management measures that have been put
in place to conserve this biodiversity hot spot include the following; (1) Establishing a code of best practice for
controlled burns on the summit by grazers. This is the first action plan
produced for this irreplaceable and valuable ecosystem. It will be subsequently
reviewed on a periodical basis to enable its adaptive management. (2) Engaging with bee keepers, who work at or
near the summit, to reduce risk of fires.(3) Researching ecosystem quality of the summit (4) Conducting a census of livestock owners on
the summit and enumerating the actual number.

Indiscriminate Fishing, a Major Income Generating Activity within the Mangroves of Bakassi Peninsula

Cameron`s mangroves forest covers approximately 30% of Cameroon`s coastline. The Rio Del Rey Estuary is a trans boundary site between Cameroon and Nigeria and hosts approximately half of Cameroon’s mangroves. The trans boundary site contains geographical coordinates of 4.8° N+ and 8.28° E+ and a mangrove surface area of 1500km2. Rio del Rey has been described as an estuary in which the rivers ,Ndian and Massake, flow out. They are the most intact and best conserved mangrove forest in the African cost (FAO. 2011).

The mangroves Rio Del Rey are a uniquely important habitat for endemic and threatened species such as the Giant frog, Conraua goliath, the West African manatee (Trichechussenegalensis) and the Dwarf crocodile (Osteolaemustetraspis). It also offers a staging area for the migratory Lesser flamingo (Phoeniconaias minor) and for the Rachel’s Malimbe (Malimbicusracheliae). The indigenous mangrove species are (Avicenniagerminans, Conocarpus erectus, Rhizophoraharrisonii, Rhizophora mangle and the Rhizophoraracemosa). These mangroves lie in a presently remote and undeveloped area of  Cameroon’s coast.

Over 24,000 active fishermen are engaged directly in fishing in the coastal area of Cameroon.  The demand for fish is increasing as a result of rapid population growth and increase in middle class household income, which drives the global expansion of trade in fisheries and fishery products. At the same time, fisheries encounter complex challenges from habitat degradation, overfishing, overcapacity, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and climate change. In addition, governance failures in fisheries’ management have contributed to exacerbating the unsustainable levels of exploitation of fishery resources and destruction of marine ecosystems and fishery habitats in the Bakassi area Cameroon.

This area lacks education and sensitization of local communities on sustainable fishing methods, awareness on the effects of using unsustainable fishing methods, and a reference document to individuals or cooperate bodies involved in fishing in the Bakassi area. There are inadequate institutional frameworks and fishery regulations, sustainable fishing methods and conservation of fishery resources, fishing techniques and fish processing, fishing operations and fishing technology in Bakassi.

As a result of the above setbacks, ERuDeF with the support of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and implementation by United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) has implemented the ‘Participative Integrated Ecosystem Service Management Plan for Bakassi Post Conflict Ecosystem’ (PINESMAP- BPCE). The project highlights recommendations to curb practices such as avoidance of destructive fishing practices (bottom trawling, cyanide, dynamite and juvenile fishing) that destroy marine organisms and their habitats and undermine human well-being in Cameroon. The Ministry of Environment, Protection of Nature and Sustainable Development (MINEDEP) has acted as a collaborator between ERuDEF, GEF, UNEP and other implementing NGOs, to aid in the recommendation on the marine landscape.

Recently,
training on best practices for sustainable fishing methods, farming, waste a
management and mangrove protection, were performed in a capacity building
workshop in Bakassi named. The workshop was titled “Strengthening
Capacity of Local Communities for adopting best practices in sustainable use of
Natural resources.”

Tephrosia Used as a Local Crop Treatment (insecticide) Component in Bakassa Village, Haut-Nkam Division

Some farmers in Bakassa village, Haut-Nkam Division, use tephrosia as a local crop treatment component. Tephrosia is a genus flower belonging to the Fabaceae family. The generic name is derived from the Greek word ‘tephros’ meaning “ash-colored,” referring to the greyish tint given to the leaves by their dense trichomes. Mr Nitcheu Jean-Baptiste, one of the farmers in the Bakassa village, uses tephrosia as a treatment on his farm.

Mr Nitcheu says tephrosia is very toxic and kills insects in the farm. He added that he prepares the treatment by; fermenting the tephrosia plant in water for one week (Experiment A), soaking tobacco separately in water for about a week (Experiment B), then mixes the two (Experiment C). He drains Experiment C with the use of a sieve and pours them into pumps to serve as treatments (insecticides) on tomatoes, pepper and coffee.

“When this insecticide is sprayed on crops in the farm, you see how insects fall off crops instantly. It is very effective” Mr Nitcheu added.

He testifies that the treatment allows his crops to yield more outputs, thus increasing his income level. The treatment is affordable as the plant grows naturally and is less time consuming to cultivate.

The farmers in this village have been using this technique introduced by Mr Nitcheu for over a year and are happy with the results they’ve achieved. More farmers are gradually adopting the technique as they seek to improve their productivity of crops.

Mr Nitcheu wishes that the technique be tested scientifically as there is limited knowledge on possible side effects the treatment can cause.

Achieving Conservation and Improving Livelihoods : Tofala-Mone East Corridor Rainforest Community Conservation Project

Thanks to the exceptional richness of its forest ecosystems, the Lebialem Highlands- particularly the Tofala-Mone East corridor is well known for its rich biodiversity.

With technical support from the African Conservation Foundation (ACF) and other partners, Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF) in 2003, launched a long-term research and conservation programme for the protection of biodiversity in the Lebialem Highlands. This research led to the discovery of Cross River gorillas and the Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzees in this landscape in 2004. Continued research in 2010 led to the creation of the Lebialem Highlands Conservation Complex with the Tofala-Mone East Corridor constituting one of the conservation blocks.

Since 2010 through the bio-monitoring research, over 150 chimpanzees, about 15-20 gorillas, unknown population of buffaloes, drills, water chevrotain and other endangered species of fauna and flora have been recorded in this rainforest corridor. The Tofala-Mone corridor serves as a genetic corridor, linking the Cross River gorillas of the Tofala Hill Wildlife Sanctuary (THWS) to those of the Takamanda National park through the Mone Forest Reserve. Over a 4 year period, from 2008 through 2012, the (ERuDeF) has conducted regular annual biodiversity surveys in this corridor that led to its proposal as a wildlife genetic corridor in 2010.

Despite the deforestation rate in this corridor, before the year 2016, being lower, it has increased at an alarming rate from 2016 to present due to the crisis plaguing the two English speaking Regions. In North West and South West people continue to relocate to bushes, establishing new settlements and farming areas.  The widespread clearing of forests for subsistence agriculture and the cultivation of cocoa, palms is an equally alerting trend.

 As these regions of the country faces above mounting threats, a promising alternative has emerged: the creation of community forests to be managed by local communities across the landscape, where ERuDeF has a long history of collaborating with local communities. Community forests can outperform strict protected areas when it comes to maintaining forest cover, while also providing economic development opportunities for marginalized groups. 

Fifteen communities i.e Bakumba, Ayukaba, Chinda, Numba, Kendem, Bokwa, Etoko, Egbemo, Tafu, Fumbe, Bambat, Egumbu, Banti, Folepi, Bechati and Sabes live within this forest corridor and depend on it for about 90% of their survival as confirmed by ERuDeF socio-economic surveys.  Based on the importance of this rainforest block, local communities applied to the state of Cameroon through ERuDeF to aid them in conserving this rich rainforest through the creation of a series of community forests.

With financial support from international partners such as the Waterloo Foundation, New England Biolabs, Rainforest Trust and technical support from the African Conservation Foundation, the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife, four community forests of 15,402 hectares have been created between 2016 to 2019. This creation, combined with a community and municipal collaborative management approach, has led to the development of economic opportunities through the implementation of a local soap making enterprise in this corridor for long term conservation of biodiversity in these forests. These community forests are Bakumba-Ayukaba-Numba-Chinda-Kendem (BANCK), Bokwa-Etoko-Egbemo-Tafu (BEET), Kendem-Etoko-Bokwa, and Leujie community forests. Three of these community forests i.e BANCK, BEET and KEB, are located between the Forest Management Unit (FMU) 11-002 and the Mone River Forest Reserve in Upper Banyang Sub-Division of Manyu Division, South West Cameroon, while the Leujie community forest is located between the Tofala Hill Wildlife Sanctuary and the FMU 11-002 and cuts across Lebialem and Manyu Divisions. Ten thousand (10,000) forest- dependent people, in 15 communities adjacent to these community forests, will benefit from the support of this project. Like most forest-dependent groups, these communities possess tremendous knowledge of biodiversity. Their harvesting of forest products- be it for domestic consumption or trade, generates critical household income and provides them with the opportunity for sustainable economic growth. The project with the forest communities, is now being carried forward with other funding mechanisms to provide continuity, and ensure that promising results can be consolidated.

This project will benefit 15 communities that are home to a total of approximately 10,000 individuals. We have collaborated with these communities to lay the groundwork for the conservation of endangered species of fauna and flora, while strengthening their internal governance and enabling them to operate in a competitive market environment. Additionally, we have facilitated the establishment of one local community-owned forest enterprise as a tool for pooling investments in equipment and social infrastructure, increasing negotiating power and improving access to markets. This work has been carried out in a participatory manner.

The creation of 4 community forests has resulted in the protection of over 45,000ha of pristine forest between the Tofala Hill Wildlife Sanctuary and the Mone Forest Reserve. This will contribute towards the long term protection of the over 630,000 ha in the Lebialem Highlands Complex.

The reliance and pressure on biological resources and the ecosystem has reduced through income generation; new employment opportunities for youths, trappers and others who are involved in forest habitat destruction and species extinction.

The local community
stakeholders’ awareness and commitment to conserve the Tofala-Mone East
Corridor and its threatened biodiversity has increased by at least 70%.

Announcement for Professional Internship placements

The ERuDeF
University Institute of Applied Biodiversity Sciences in collaboration with the
Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF) are launching for the
2019/2020 academic year the recruitment of the following category of interns.

  1. The recruitment
    of 12 graduate students currently about to start their research programmes in
    the following fields: Forestry and botany, economics, rural sociology,
    communication, agronomy, wildlife and conservation biology and environmental
    law.
  2. The recruitment
    of six (6) recent graduates at Masters level and who are currently registered
    with the National Employment Fund either in the SW, West, Litoral, Centre,
    East, Adamawa and or Far North in the following areas of specialization: law
    and political sciences, Business Administration, Agronomy, wildlife and
    conservation biology, forestry, journalism, finance, program administration and
    management, Human Resources Management, women and gender, human rights and
    conflicts management.

Recruits from the ERuDeF-NEF partnership programme
shall be paid following the regulation in force.

  • Four (4) undergraduates
    students working to undergo a 3-4-year professional internship training
    programme in the field of internal audit and control, financial and investment
    planning, environmental law.

The selected
candidates under categories 1 and 2 shall undergo a 12 months training program
at the ERuDeF University Institute and a further 12 months field placement in
the ERuDeF field programme sites located across the national territory.

At the end of
the programme, the successful candidates shall be recruited into ERuDeF as
permanent staff.  

Interested candidates should deposit their applications at the ERuDeF Institute campus at Mile 18 Junction-Buea or at the ERuDeF Head office (Civil Society Building) Checkpoint, Buea,

All application files should be composed of the following;

i) an
application form collected from the ERuDeF offices and or downloaded from its
website; ii) a non-refundable fee of
20,000CFA; iii) a CV;  iv)
an attestation of experience from recent graduates if available; v) a reference statement letter from a
professor for current students; vi)
a commitment letter to complete the training programme.

The funding of
the program tuition shall be supported by ERuDeF and its partners, including
NEF.

However, the trainees’
field costs shall be covered by the trainee themselves.

The training
program begins from the 1st of October 2019.

ERuDeF is an equal opportunity employer regardless of sex, religion, and race

Ndi Magdalene

Acting Director of Administration