Celebrating the International Day of Biological Diversity amidst the COVID-19 pandemic

The year 2020 has been one of the most challenging years in human history given the outbreak of the novel coronavirus pandemic that has claimed thousands of lives around the globe. The 2020 edition of the International Day of Biological Diversity is therefore celebrated in another context unlike the past editions. A lot have changed with our environment as coronavirus continues to spread around the world with no slightest intentions of stopping. we now breath clean air unlike before given the lockdown measures put in place by most governments to contain the spread of the deadly virus around the world.

Celebrated under the theme
“Our solutions are in the nature”, the 2020 edition of the International Day of
Biological Diversity is seen as a unique day for the human race to re-examine its
relationship with the natural world. Climate change is staring us in the face,
some species are gradually disappearing, clean water and air is becoming a
luxury. All of these dysfunctions are caused principally by human activities.
For us to reverse this dysfunction, we need a concerted action- from micro to
macro, or put differently, from local to international.

ERuDeF’s efforts in biodiversity conservation
and restoration

In her 20 years of existence,
the Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF) has been working
tirelessly and ceaselessly in conserving biodiversity in Cameroon. Many of her
projects and programs are directed toward this direction as outlined below.

ERuDeF’s restoration projects/programme has greatly helped in bringing back biodiversity in ecosystems that are experiencing continues biodiversity loss. One of such projects in this direction is the Mount Bamboutos Initiative that is expected to restore 35000ha of land in the degraded Mount Bamboutos in western Cameroon. Due to anthropogenic activities such as poaching, deforestation, bush fires, poor farming practices and urbanization, the Mount Bamboutos landscape has been severely degraded. This project is expected to span for 15 years with its pilot phase ending in 2021. The Project will plant 15 million trees, serve 30.000 people and benefit close to 5 million people.

Youth planting tree in Bafou, west Region, Cameroon

Also, The Mandara Mountain Initiative, just like the Mount Bamboutos Initiative will also help to plant 15 million trees to serve the Lake Tchad that is fast drying off. This project will also last for 15 years. Just like the two projects mentioned above, the Adamawa initiative will equally restore the the fast degrading Adamawa plateau in northern Cameroon with the planting of over 10 million tree.

ERuDeF has also initiated the the Cameroon Environmental Education Initiative (CEEI) which is designed to educate people on the importance of protecting the environment. This initiative that was initiated and tested in 2014 in the Libialem Highlands has been very successful. The Lebialem Highlands Environmental Education Association (LHEEA) was formed to support the continuity of this program. So far fifty Environmental clubs have been created and managed by the LHEEA in schools across the Tofala, Mak-Betchou, Mount Bamboutos and Tofala-mone conservation areas.

The also the ERuDeF Institute of Applied Biodiversity Sciences has also championed environmental education in Buea, chief town of the Southwest region of Cameroon.

ERuDeF has equally championed creation of conservation corridors, uninterrupted areas of forest and other habitats rich in biodiversity that link protected areas.  The creation of protected areas and conservation corridors has greatly helped in the protection of biodiversity. These corridors include, the Tofala-Mone Corridor Project, Lebialem Highlands in Western Cameroon This project succeeded to create the bio-bridge or a genetic corridor linking the great apes of the Tofala to those of the Takamanda-mone landscape.  

The Deng Deng-Dja conservation corridor just like the Tofala-Mone Corridor seeks to facilitate wildlife migration from Northern Cameroon to South Western Cameroon through Nigeria and to south Eastern Cameroon to join the greater Congo Basin forest. ERuDeF is helping to create this corridor with support from a number of partners amongst which is World Land Trust (WLT).

All the efforts put by ERuDeF just like other organisations around the world to conserve and/or restore biodiversity need to be boosted by the local governments. The time to act is now, “Our solutions are in the nature”.

“Birds connect our world” ERuDeF celebrates the world Migratory Bird Day

The Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF), remains resolute in conserving, restoring and connecting the integrity of ecosystems that support the movement of migratory birds, that face many cahllenges as they connect the world.  ERuDeF honors these beautiful winged creatures, but also raises awareness on the need for international cooperation to conserve them.

Migratory birds undertake regular seasonal movement often north and south along flyway between breeding and wintering grounds. Today, migratory birds still face serious threat, from loss of habitat, climate change, poisoning, power lines, illegal hunting, pollution and natural disasters. ERuDeF is therefore taking this opportunity for world migratory bird’s day celebration, to call on each and every individual to step up actions and adopt sustainable natural use methods to better protect migratory birds and the habitats they need to survive and thrive.

According to the CEO of Wetlands International, Jane
Madgwick, disrupting ecological connectivity between wetlands has great
consequences for migratory water birds that travel great distances between
their breeding and non-breeding grounds. The theme of the World Migratory Bird
Day 2020 is “Birds Connect Our World”. This year’s theme was chosen in order to
highlight the importance of conservation and restoration of ecological
connectivity and integrity of ecosystems that support the movement of these
birds.

Important outdoor activities for World Migratory Bird Day are bird watching, awareness raising and clean-up campaigns. ERuDeF is an environmental non-profit Cameroonian NGO with the mission to conserve biodiversity and protect fragile environments through research, training, education and community engagements. To celebrate the WMBD 2020, it organized a bird watching tour in the secondary forest area behind the University of Buea.

ERuDeF celebrates the World Earth Day

The
Environmental and Rural Development Foundation joined the world on April 22 in
celebrating the 50th anniversary of the World Earth Day under the theme
“Climate Action”. The ceremony started with a symposium on ERuDeF’s local theme
of the World Earth Day; “Change Management in a Changing Climate.”

CEO of ERuDeF poses for a picture during the tree planting exercise at the Wotolo Water Catchment

According to the president/CEO of ERuDeF, Louis Nkembi, 2000 trees will be planted across their principal landscape for ecosystem restoration which is the Mt. Bambotous Landscape, and about 200 trees will be planted in selected water catchments in the Buea municipality.

ERuDeF Executive Director planting a tree at the Wotolo Water Catchment

He also noted that, ERuDeF will be launching an essay competition on the impact of the Cameroon Anglophone and COVID-19 crises on the environment in Anglophone Cameroon. This essay shall carry a cash price of about $ 2000 and shall be awarded on June 05, 2020, that corresponds to the world Environment day.

ERuDeF staff poses for a picture during Tree Planting exercise

ERuDeF also visited the Wotolo Community Water Catchment, planting some trees (prunus africana), and promising to work with the community in sustaining and preserving the water catchment. According to the coordinator of the Wotolo Water Project, Chrisantus Anye Akama, this water catchment is the safest water source in Buea. He recounted how they have been suffering a lot in their neighborhood because of lack of potable water.

Director of CAWI

“The community has been going through a lot of hurdles because we don’t have clean water to drink. We are blessed with this natural stream which we can harness to be able to provide water for the community.” He noted they have about 500 houses in their community and about 2000 people will benefit from this water project if harnessed. “We thank ERuDeF for coming with this tree planting exercise. When they plant these trees, we are going to protect this environment and secure it from encroachment from animals and people.”

ERudeF staff scramble for water at the Wotolo water catctment

How Forest Gardens in Cameroon are sustained despite covid-19 threat

Covid-19 has pervaded every aspect of our lives; and although we may feel the various impacts in different ways, there is one factor that affects majority of the population: food. In order to ensure continuous sustainability of the Forest Gardens and the security of famers, ERuDeF has rolled out a series of training videos to farmers to provide seasonally important instructions, while continuing to follow the health and safety guidelines for COVID-19 placed by the government.

Some of the training videos include: Nursery site selection, pretreatment of seeds, preparing soil mixtures for tree sac, sowing in tree sacs and bare root nursery amongst others. These videos are aimed at giving clear instructions to farmers so they can keep moving through the Forest Garden program and ultimately be successful. These nurseries will help them nurse vegetables, medicinal and economic trees which will go a long way to solve the problem of hunger. Farmers should comfortably stay safe at home during periods of disasters and have their forest gardens serve as their super market.

 The 2008 Global Financial Crisis left an additional 100 million people hungry.  During the 2014/2015 Ebola outbreak, families’ abilities to harvest and sell food was directly impacted by quarantine and stigma. The connection between natural disasters and food security is a big challenge to the entire universe.  Families living in hunger and poverty are in a vulnerable position as the virus threatens trade, economies and food systems.

Sonwa Showing Agroforestry Trees

Forest
gardens farmers in Cameroon have been very successful in Agroforestry (Forest
garden) practices because of the training they have been getting from the TREES
staff.

Staring
down at COVID-19 and the effects of training in the different project sites, the
farmers are grateful to TREES/ERuDeF for the support through these tough times.
They are promising to keep up the best in the program while staying safe.