WHY WOMEN’S EMPOWERMENT, GENDER EQUALITY MATTERS IN RESTORATION

Ecosystem
restoration is reversing degradation of ecosystems, e.g. forest landscapes,
mangroves, watersheds, dry lands- to regain their functionality for the people
and for the planet.    

More than 75 percent of Earth’s land areas are substantially degraded, undermining the well-being of 3.2 billion people, according to the World’s first Comprehensive, Evidence-based Assessment. These lands that have either become deserts, are polluted, or have been deforested and converted to agricultural land. If this trend continues, 95 percent of the Earth’s land areas could become degraded by 2050. That would potentially force hundreds of millions of people to migrate, as food production will collapse in many places. However, rapid expansion and unsustainable management of croplands and grazing lands is the main driver of land degradation, causing significant loss of biodiversity and impacting food security, water purification, the provision of energy, and other contributions of nature essential to people. This has reached “critical levels” in many parts of the world. Underlying drivers of land degradation; the high-consumption lifestyles in the most developed economies, combined with rising consumption in developing and emerging economies, continued population growth in many parts of the world, are driving unsustainable levels of agricultural expansion, natural resource and mineral extraction, and urbanization.

We’ve
known about this for over 20 years but it is only getting worse. how about we trying
out some approaches which have been neglected in the quest to restore degraded
ecosystems such as Gender-responsive restoration, since gender gaps persist,
pervade across sectors: women’s knowledge, needs, priorities, experiences, capacities
still undervalued and ignored, roles and responsibilities are differentiated
between men and women. Women tend to have fewer livelihood alternatives due to
sociocultural barriers consequently, access, control and benefits remain wildly
inequitable, while impacts of degradation affect those already vulnerable most acutely
(women).

Have we
ever thought that Women’s empowerment and gender equality makes a difference
for restoration?

Women
and men contribute differently to restoration options and value benefits differently
– opening new possibilities for restoration, therefore, could be a crucial
opportunity for women’s economic empowerment. Gender-responsive restoration secure
land and resource rights, moving ecosystem restoration towards more sustainable
livelihoods, ecosystem management & outcomes while ensuring a climate
resilient earth.

Taking
restoration to another level, and ensuring sustainable results of ecosystem restoration,
we must conduct gender analysis, ensure equitable decision making, improve land
and resource rights, partner with women, collect disaggregated data and use
gender indicators, facilitate dialogue on access, control, grievance mechanisms
develop gender-responsive policies and plans, exchange knowledge, share
information. Both women and men must have equal say in all decision making, restoration
efforts must reflect the priorities, interests and knowledge of both women and
men.

How we are applying this

The award winning NGO, Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF) is currently carrying out ecosystem restoration activities on the Mt Bamboutos, in its flagship project, Mount Bamboutos Initiative. This Mountain was once one of the richest mountain biodiversity hotspots in Africa. It is also the second highest water tower in Cameroon which has nearly been completely degraded. In the quest to carrying out restoration activities in the Mt Bamboutos landscape, gender analysis is carried out to make sure at least 50% of the local population taking part in this process are women and youths, who are the most vulnerable. Women and youths are involved in decision making, public consultation meetings, economic empowerment and many more aspects concerning the restoration process.  

Mrs.Tacuzine Brigitte is one of the most active women as far as the Mount Bamboutos Initiative. She is one of the women leaders in her native Femmouck village, in the West region of Cameroon. To her women voices need to be heard in all aspects of human endeavor. She mobilizes women to actively take part in the Mount Bamboutos Imitative in her village like no one. “this is one of the ways we make our voices heard. We are the most affected as far as the degradation of the Mount Bamboutos is concerned. Crops yields are falling drastically, due to the degradation of this mountain. We have to take the lead in it’s restoration”

Ndoh Agness is another woman who is so passionate about the Mount Bamboutos initiative. To her, the coming of the Mount Bamboutos Initiative to village, Buchi, in the Northwest Region of Cameroon is serving as an eye opener to the women folk. She is the leader of the women folk of her village. “Mount Bamboutos is like a religion to us” Ndoh Agness said. She continued “This project has drawn the women folk of my village closer than ever before. We are now aware of how crucial we the women folk are, as far as the restoration of the Mount Bamboutos is concerned”

The
Environment and Rural Development Foundation has continued to train women
around the Mount Bamboutos landscape on sustainable agricultural practices such
as agroforestry. With support from Trees for the Future, the Environment and
Rural Development Foundation is gradually transforming the lives of those
living around Mount Bamboutos through the introduction of the Forest Gardens Programme.
Barren lands are gradually being transformed into productive lands. Crops are
much more diversified and soil fertility is gradually being improved.

The Mount Bamboutos Fons’ Association gains Legal Status

The Mount Bamboutos Fons’ Association (MBFA) has gained its legal status. This was early January 2021 after receiving the declaration certificate from the Senior Divisional Officer of Bamboutos in Mbouda. The news which came as a breakthrough from the president of the Association, His Majesty Senator Fon Lekunze Andreas Nembo of Bamumbu, was received with a lot of effervescence by the members of the Association. The Association which constitute all the paramount chiefs of the chiefdoms in Mount Bamboutos was initiated on 19th of April 2018 during a meeting held in Bafoussam with some paramount chiefs and sub-chiefs around mount Bamboutos. The creation process was facilitated by the Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF), with financial support from the French Global Fund for Environment – Small Grants Programme (FFEM-PP1) through the International Union for Nature Conservation – French Committee.

“I am
very happy that after close to three years we are able to legalise MBFA. This marks
a turning point in the life the Mount Bamboutos Initiative. We shall speak now
in a much louder voice” the president of Mont Bamboutos Fons’ Association, Fon
Lekunze said.

The CEO and President of ERuDeF, Louis Nkembi on his part could holdn’t his joy after receiving the news. Hear him “MBFA is a very important body as far as the Mount Bamboutos Initiative is concerned. Since we started the implementation of Mt. Bamboutos Initiative in 2018, fons have played a vital role. The acceptability rate of the project is high thanks to the efforts made by these fons. Am very happy receiving the news of the creation of the MBFA”

MBFA is a non-profit community-based association
whose members are to work in accordance to the LAW No. 20/053 of December 1990 on the liberty of
Association in Cameroon.

The
goal of this association is to ensure effective grassroots participation and
involvement in the sustainable management of the Mt. Bamboutos ecosystem
through a “bottom-up” approach.

The objectives of MBFA are:

  1. To contribute towards sustainable land use
    management in the Mt. Bambouotos landscape by taking and implementing concrete
    decisions;
  2. To lobby and influence the government of Cameroon
    to invest in the sustainable management of the Mt. Bamboutos ecosystem;
  3. To ensure transparency and accountability in the
    management of financial and material resources for the sustainable management
    of natural resources in the Mt. Bamboutos ecosystem.
  4. To collaborate with the government of Cameroon
    and local/international non-governmental organizations (NGO) in the development
    and implementation of projects for the wellbeing of the rural population living
    around the Mt. Bamboutos area. 

The Association is constituted of paramount rulers of the following chiefdoms that surrounds the Bamboutos mountains: Bafou, Bangang, Babadjou and Fongo-Tongo (in the West Region); Bamumbu, M’muock Fossimondi and M’muockmbie (in the Southwest Region); Pinyin, Menka, Buchi, Ashong and Guzong (in the Northwest).

The
legalization of MBFA will give it more impetus to champion the fight for the
restoration of the severely degraded mount Bamboutos ecosystem. It should be
noted that even when the Association was not yet legalized, the members have
played very vital role in the success of the pilot phase of the Mount Bamboutos
Initiative, serving as entry points to local communities and taking vital
management decisions.

More sub-villages in Bangang village embrace the Mount Bamboutos Initiative

The people of Bameghuie I, Bameghuie II and Bamelang in the Bangang chiefdom, one of the villages in the mount Bamboutos Landscape, situated in Batcham sub-division of the Bamboutos Division in the West Region of Cameroon, have embraced the Mount Bamboutos Initiative (MBI) project. This was during a series of sensitization meetings organized in the palaces of these respective communities from 10 -15 December 2020. The objective was to create awareness on the need to restore the severely degraded mount Bamboutos ecosystem. To better appraise the degradation of the landscape and help convince the people to see the need for restoration, a participatory land use mapping exercise was carried out to map the current land uses in the respective villages. The map was also going to facilitate the development of a land use plan for the Bangang community.

Participants in these meetings were the chiefs of the sub-villages and their subjects. According to the chief of Bamelang H.R.M. Tsonva Domenigue, the MBI project and its participatory land use planning activity will go a long way to help his people as his community is gradually becoming much populated and land allocation and land use conflict are increasingly a problem. Hear him “my community is privileged to part of the Mount Bamboutos Initiative. This projects assure my much alike my subjects that the future will be void of conflict when it comes to land use. Am also very assured that the biodiversity of Mount Bamboutos will be restored with sustained collective effort” “we are ready for this”, he assured. For him, the land use planning would help manage such conflicts, ease tensions and bring about more effective and efficient use of land and its natural resources in his community.

At the end of these meetings, community members gave their free and prior consent to the MBI project. It should be noted that before carrying out sensitisation in these new sub-villages, MBI has been implementing its activities in 3 other sub-villages in the Bangang chiefdom. These include: Mekoup, Balekeu and Tsopeua. These and the new sub-villages are sub-villages situated on the mountain ecosystem and their activities are greatly affecting the health of the ecosystem. To demonstrate their interest in the project, the people of Bameghuie I, Bameghuie II and Bamelang have started putting materials together in order to set up a tree nursery that will produce agroforestry and native trees for the restoration of degraded farms, riparian forests, water catchments and sacred forests.

Deh Nji Hermann is te
coordinator of Mount Bamboutos initiative, according to him, the coming on-board
of these villages is a is a sign that Mount Bamboutos initiative will achieve
it gaols even before the 15 years that the project is due. “Am very pleased to
see this villages joining the Mount Bamboutos Initiative. We ae going to work
with them to bring back Mount Bamboutos closer to what it was some 10 decades
ago”

The Mount Bamboutos Initiative (MBI) project is a joint initiative of the Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF) and the International Tree Foundation (ITF), UK in collaboration with the government of Cameroon to support the urgent restoration of the highly degraded ecosystem and biodiversity of Mt. Bamboutos. It is a 15-year project to be implemented in three phases across three regions of Cameroon, (South West, West and North West). The project’s overall goal is to restore the biodiversity and ecosystem functions of Mount Bamboutos ecosystem, while securing the livelihoods of the local and indigenous communities. The project envisages to plant fifteen million trees in 15 years to restore 35,000 ha of degraded lands and to secure livelihoods for 30000 people across the Mount Bamboutos landscape

Discover how pastoralists are highly involved in the Mount Bamboutos Initiative

Since the onset of the Mount Bamboutos initiative in 2018, ERuDeF together with her local and international partners have been working towards getting everyone involved. One of of the ethnic groups that have been highly involved in the Mount Bamboutos Initiative project are the Bororos (pastoralists). Considered to be reserved and very highly isolated people, the Bororos have been one of the most active ethnic groups as far as the Mount Bamboutos Initiative is concerned. The Bororos are considered as settlers in the Mount Bamboutos landscape. Despite their “settler” statues, the Bororos have taken upon themselves to restore the Mount Bamboutos ecosystem.

The continuous conversion of pastoral land into agricultural land by farmers have robbed this group of people of their grazing land. They are not only losing grazing land but they have little or no water especially in the dry season for their animals to drink. The lack of water is as a result of the continuous cutting down of trees in the Mount Bamboutos.

There has been tension between Bororos and farmers as a result of the continuous conversion of pastoral land by farmers for agricultural purposes. They remain in the losing side since they are the minority.

Sali Manu is a grazer and a representative of the Bororos in Bangang village, West region of Cameroon. He owns 60 cows, 15 horses and 30 sheep. The father of 13 is very worried at the rate at which the Mount Bamboutos is being degraded. Sali, as he is fondly called says his animals haven’t  enough water to drink in the rainy season talk less of the dry season. “When I was young, I and my late father had enough land to graze our cattle on. Now the situation is different, we don’t have enough land to grace our cattle since every place is gradually being transformed to farm lands. During the dry season we are forced to walk long distances with our animals to get water. Usually we go to Santchou, some 6 kms away from Bangang village where am based”. “I will take part in every tree planting exercise on the Mount Bamboutos”, the 40-year-old grazer continues “in order to guarantee a good future for my 13 kids and preserve our long standing tradition of grazing”. Sali Manu just like many other Bororos want a participatory land use system in which everyone has a say. “I am very happy with the participatory land use planning system in which ERuDeF is in the process of developing and implementing for the entire landscape.”  Sali Manu said with a broad smile on his face.

Sali Manu carrying trees on his back and hands to planting site

Nuhu Barkido is one of the pioneers of the Mount Bamboutos Initiatve. The 25 years old and and his friend Adamu Adamu, 26 have been very active as far as the 2020 tree planting is concerned. They have all answered present in all the tree planting exercise in their Bangang village. “when I was young I used to enjoy the natural beauty of the Mount Bamboutos. Now the situation has changed, the beauty of the mountain has all gone and what one can see now are farmlands doted here and there. We don’t have enough land to graze our cattle. We are experiencing absolute water shortages. We don’t have enough water to drink talk less of our cattle Nuhu lamented.  “At times we are referred to as “strangers” irrespective of the fact that we were born and bred here in Bangang village. We are not bothered by this appellation, what bother us most is the state of the Mount Bamboutos. We are determined to reverse the presnt situation that is why am actively involved in tree planted”. Adamu added.

Adamu Adamu (left) and Nuhu Barkido (Right)

Dada Hayatou is one of the few who lived the glorious days of the Mount Bamboutos. The 77 years who is also a mother of 10 has been taken part in all tree planting exercise since the beginning of the Mount Bamboutos Initiative project despite her ill health , 2020 not being an exception. “I am one of the very few that enjoyed the rich biodiversity of this Mountain. We had enough water for our cattle since all water catchments were intact; not t now that trees around water catchments are all leveled down. Mount Bamboutos is no longer the mountain I used to know. I am dedicating the rest of my life to the Mount Bamboutos Initiative project. I wish I could live  for another 15 years to see how this wonderful project will end ” Dada Hayatou said.

Dada Hayatou (left) during tree planting in Mekoup, Bangang water catchment

Hadija Dada, 55 is also very involved in the project. She is has 30 cows 50 sheep and and 10 goats. “I have taken it upon myself to be part of every tree planting exercise in my village, Bangang. My wish is to see the Mountain come back into its glorious days”, hadija Dada said.

Hadija Dada (left) and Ahminatou (right) holding a tree during tree planting

It should be noted that the Mount Bamboutos Initiative is a project to restore 35000ha of the degraded Mount Bamboutos ecosystem through the planting of 15 million trees. The Project that was launched in 2018 will run for 15 years. Its pilot phase ends in 2021.

How Agroforestry is Alleviating Poverty in Haut-Nkam

Agroforestry which is a science of integrated farming that includes trees, crops and animals on thesame piece of land, has proven to be a means through which poverty can be  reduced especially in rural communities.

During a recent impact assessment trip to Haut-Nkam, West Region of Cameroon by ERuDeF’s Director of Development and Philanthropy, farmers practicing agroforestry in this area attested they are witnessing a steady increase in yields.  These farmers are part of ERuDeF’s Forest Garden Project ongoing in the Mount Bamboutos landscape that cut across three administrative Regions of Cameroon.

Mrs. Gahatchamgoue Grace has been practicing agroforestry since ERuDeF introduced this system of agriculture in Haut-Nkam where she is based. “I have received training on agroforestry practices particularly by using the forest garden model from ERuDeF. My output has increased significantly since i diversified my farm, fodder (usually acacia) helps in increasing soil fertility, some of the trees like “neem” are very medicinal and the wood is used as fuel for cooking. I sell surpluses from crops harvested and earn additional income. This allows me to pay my children’s school fees with ease. Am very grateful to ERuDeF and her partners for introducing this life-changing system of agriculture in my area”, said Mrs. Gahatchamgoue Grace.

Agroforestry
has proven to be a system which is not only ecologically friendly but also
economically sound. This is very evident in Haut-Nkam where most households
depend solely on agriculture. Soil fertility has been improved considerably
given the diversification of crops. Incomes of farmers just like that of Mrs.
Gahatchamgoue Grace has increased substantially.

The
environment and Rural Development Foundation will continue to give technical
training as well as financial assistance to farmers willing to adopt this
system of Agriculture not only in Haut-Nkam but all over Cameroon.

Forest Gardeners belittle COVID-19 threats

“No! Despite the COVID-19
pandemic threatening us, we farmers of Ngui village will continue to plant
trees in our farms while ensuring every safety measures put in place by the government
of Cameroon are respected. No matter what it takes, we need to take care of our
farmlands” cried out Donfack Jacques, a farmer of Ngui community in Bafou
subdivision.

The outbreak of COVID-19 has hindered economic activities in
most countries around the world given the strict measures taken to reduce its
spread. These measures that include but not limited to staying at home and
social distancing have greatly affected the forest gardens community of the
west region. The preventive measures have not only slowed-down field activities
but demotivated some farmers to execute their planned activities.

Despite all the hindrances, some farmers, such as those of Bafou subdivision of Cameroon’s West Region, remain strongly engaged. They are determined to hit their tree planting targets for the season.  

Donfack Jacques nursing Acacia catechu in his bare root

Donfack Jacques has been practicing forest gardening for two years and counting. He has received countless trainings from ERuDeF on how to setup and manage a forest Garden.  Donfack Jacques has several nurseries in which he nurses different species of fruit trees as well as fertilizer trees. “I can never abandon the nursing of fertilizer trees! I believe that these plants will help me to identify my boundaries and protect my crops against stray animals. The Acacia catechu trees will also protect my cabbages and potatoes from soil erosion and and degradation” 

ERuDeF signs MoU with DESDA, PEDER, renews commitment with G I, to restore the Mount Bamboutos ecosystem functions.

The environment and Rural Development Foundation has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Dynamic Eco sustainable and Development Association, DESDA, a local organization based in Bamenda and Protection de L’Environment et Development de L’Elevage en Milieu Rural, PEDER based in Mbouda. The signing of the MoU came after intense discussions that lasted for two days between the chief executive officers of DESDA, Mme. Foncham Linda and her team, Mr. Tazo Jean Bosco, the chief executive officer of PEDER on the hand and the president/CEO of ERuDeF, Louis Nkembi and his own team on the other hand.  The signing of the MoU took place at the headquarters of ERuDeF in Buea, Friday May 15 2020.

During discussions that culminated to the signing of the MoU, the President/CEO of ERuDeF schooled the CEOs of PEDER and DESDA about the Mount Bamboutos Initiative and expressed his willingness to build their capacities in areas which they may lack such capacities. He also assured them that ERuDeF will work with them for as long as they deliver. For us to succeed, the CEO of ERuDeF continued, “…we must have a shared vision, the vision of restoring the ecosystem functions of the Mount Bamboutos”

The Midterm review of the Mount Bamboutos Initiative was
also presented to enable the new partners understand the state of the project. Lapses
of the first two years of the project were discussed. The incoming
organizations are expected to close such lapses before the last year of the
current funding elapses. Louis Nkembi, just like the MBI project manager, Mr. Asabaimbi
Deh Nji stressed that these organizations must be on the field all the times so
as to ensure the smooth running of the activities of the project wherever they
are based.

DESDA that has as vision empowering indigenous and grassroots women/girl while ensuring a sustainable environment and restoration of the ecosystem will be working in Pinyin, Menka and Buchi, Santa sub-division, Mezam Division, Northwest region of Cameroon. It should be noted that the MBI project has as one of its objectives, empowering women and girls. DESDA is therefore a square peck in a square hole and her involvement and relevance in the project can not be over emphasized.

PEDER on other hand will be working in the Bamboutos Division of the West Region precisely in Babadjou and Bangang villages. PEDER’S main objective is protecting the environment and developing rural communities, which falls in line with  the objectives of the MBI- sustainable livelihoods and ecosystem restoration.

Worthy of note was the presence the CEO of Green Impact (GI), AWOUNANG Michel.  GI is a local organization based in Dschang that joint the the MBI project in May 2019. AWOUNANG Michel renewed commitments with ERuDeF in restoring the ecosystem functions of the Mount Bamboutos even before the 15 years that the MBI project is expected to last. GI has been working in the Menoua Division precisely Bafou village since last year when she joined the project.

The CEO of DESDA, likewise that of GI and PEDER expressed their gratitude to ERuDeF for giving them the great opportunity of being part of the MBI project that will not only restore the ecosystem functions of the Mt. Bamboutos but also change thousands of lives. The President/CEO of ERuDeF also thanked them for having confidence in ERuDeF and expressed his willingness to renew the present MoU (that expires in March 2021) for as many times as possible so long as they respect the terms of the current MoU till it expires.

The Mount Bamboutos Initiative (MBI) is a joint initiative developed by ERuDeF and ITF in partnership with the government of Cameroon that aims to restore the biodiversity and ecosystem functions of the degraded Mount Bamboutos landscape while securing the livelihoods of local and indigenous population. Specifically, the project aims to restore 35,000 hectares of the degraded landscape through the planting of 15 million agroforestry and indigenous tree species to secure the livelihoods of over 30,000 people, for 15 years. Due to anthropogenic activities such as poaching, deforestation, bush fires, poor farming practices and urbanization, the Mount Bamboutos landscape has been severely degraded.  Therefore, ERuDeF has taken various steps to salvage the landscape with objectives in relation to governance, livelihoods development, biodiversity, forest landscape restoration, biodiversity, research and development and sustainable finance.

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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”.

MBI midterm review meeting held: path covered in the first pilot phase of the life changing project, challenges and ways to overcome them

The midterm debriefing meeting for the first pilot phase of the Mount Bamboutos Initiative (MBI) project has taken place. The meeting took place at the headquarters of the Environment and Rural Development Foundation, ERuDeF in Buea on Friday April 3, 2020.

The review meeting which took place in the presence of the CEO of ERuDeF, Louis Nkembi, consultant of the review, Mr.Atabong Alex, project manager, Deh Nji Hermann and local Community Based Organization (CBOs) representatives was aimed briefing ERuDeF on the findings in the field, the challenges and identification of gaps. Also in the menu of discussion was devising means of getting funding for the 15-year project.

Talking during the meeting the, the CEO of ERuDeF
gave an over view of the MBI. He underscored the importance of restoring the
Mount Bamboutos ecosystem functions after 3 decades of continuous degradation
resulting from human activities. The Mount Bamboutos, Louis Nkembi posited, “is
the third elevation in Cameroon after Mount Cameroon and Mount Oku,
respectively”. The mountain, he continued, “is the second watershed in Cameroon
after the Adamawa Plateau”, wandering what would become of rivers and streams
that depend on this towering watershed if left to be degraded by indiscriminate
human activities. 

The consultant of the the midterm review, Mr. Atabong Alex presented his findings gotten from the 16 villages where the MBI project is taking place. He appreciated the efforts made by ERuDeF and its local partners in making the project a success in the first pilot phase. He equally pointed out some shortcomings he witnessed during his field assessment of the project. Among these shortcomings are: poor database of trees nursed and planted, a lack of mastery of the project document of funding partners (TreesSisters, Trees for the Future and Darwin Initiative) by ERuDeF’s local partners (Green Impact, Operation Green Space and PEDER). Mr.Atabong lamented the fact that the database of farmers taking part in the MBI project is not reflective enough. He equally recommended that communication should be improved at the level ERuDeF hierarchy and the technicians in the field. Mr. Atabong also suggested that nursery attendants should equally ensure a good follow up of nurseries so that nursed trees should not wither off as the case of some nurseries.

As concerns the gender aspect of the MBI project Mr. Atabong appreciated the work done so far by the gender team of ERuDeF as close to around 31% of the women are fully taking part in the project. To him, if the present momentum is carried forward to the second pilot phase of the project, the gender aspect of the project would be achieved in no distance time. He appealed that more and more youths should be made part of the project, as the youths are still to be fully involved

As concerns the long term funding of the project, there was a general consensus that more avenues should be explored to get funds in order to ensure the sustainability of the project. Also, it was observed that local CBOs lack the capacity to produce quality financial and narrative reports as expected by the funding partners of the MBI project, despite the fact that they have been trained on reporting, by the project accountant and manager respectively. More so, financial reports are not always submitted on time by these CBOs, making pre-financing inevitable. This is because ERuDeF disburses money only after such financial reports are submitted on time with adequate receipts.

Local CBOs representatives

Mr. Atabong also appealed that more online exposure
should be given to the Mount Bamboutos project.

All in all the meeting ended in a satisfactory note
with the CEO of ERuDeF, Louise Nkembi urging every one involved in the MBI
project to do what was left undone in the first pilot phase of the project in
the second pilot phase of the project. He acknowledged that there would still
be challenges but such challenged would be dealt with if team work and
dedication is put into practice by every one involved in the MBI project.

It should be noted that the Mount Bamboutos Initiative (MBI) is a project for the restoration of the Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functions of Mount Bamboutos in Western Cameroon. It is a joint initiative of the Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF), Cameroon and the International Tree Foundation (ITF), UK in collaboration with the government of Cameroon. The Mount Bamboutos ecosystem by 1960 was one of the most biodiversity rich mountains in continental Africa. Due to indiscriminate human activities in and around the Mount Bamboutos, the mountain has undergone tremendous degradation in the last 3 decades, thus the need to restore its ecosystem functions.

Partners

Proposed zoning plan in the Mount Bamboutos area

The Mount Bamboutos area is a cosmopolitan environment characterized by varied land use patterns which generate conflicts between farmers and grazers, farmers and farmers and between villages. Also the population is facing a decrease of agricultural yields, a lack of water, erosion etc. To meet these needs, it is necessary to introduce and establish land use and effective governance systems for the Mount Bamboutos ecosystem.

Local development plans and council development plans are elaborated in these villages, but do not take into consideration all of the natural resources. These plans are oriented to social infrastructures (education, health, hygiene and sanitation). The objective of this zoning plan is to provide a tool to help take biodiversity and the ecosystem into account in land use planning by defining the different zones of intervention.
Specifically it was about:
 Identify and map the different land use types in a participatory manner
 Define the different allocations (Zones) of the land use types that are agroforestry zones, agricultural zones, and conservation / protection zones.
The land use types identified in the area are: sacred areas, rural agricultural, animal rearing (pastoral) and grazing land, water bodies, vegetation/forest, quarry, rural build up and transportation

Figure: Zoning map of Bamumbu, Bangang and Bafou

The land use types were grouped into 6 land use zones based on the consultation of local stakeholders and the ERuDeF’s restoration strategies. These are Protection / conservation zone, agroforestry zone, agricultural zone, pastoral zone, agro-industrial zone and infrastructural Zone
In Cameroon, the zoning that has been carried out relates only to the forest sector since 1993. Very few actions were carried out in the context of zoning in rural areas in a context of loss of biodiversity and degradation of natural resources. It was in 2011 that the law (n ° 2011/008 of 06 May 2011) on Land Management and Sustainable Development was enacted.
This Law, aims to integrate the management of national space within development policies, in order to give more visibility and method to land allocation; to balance the distribution of activities, infrastructures, equipment, services, and populations across