Within the context of its Island Biodiversity Conservation Programme, the Environment and Rural Development Foundation will be launching a project to support Tiko-Limbe 3 Island communities on the Southwest coast of Cameroon to conserve their mangroves. This Project is supported by the American-based Non-profit organisation, Seacology.
The project will kick off ERuDeF’s vision for the next 25 years to preserve 5000ha of a forest reserve that will serve as a no-go zone for the protection of the mangrove ecosystem, creation of local management institutions for these Tiko-Limbe 3 island communities
The Tiko-Limbe 3 Islands landscape is abundantly rich in plants and marine species. Mangroves represent reproduction centres for fish and other marine species which are the main sources of economic and financial support to households and local economic development. This project will lead to the protection of a 5000 ha of mangrove ecosystem, a huge reproduction centre for mangrove and marine species. The implementation of this project will also lead to the elimination of illegal fishing and stop mangrove wood exploitation
As part of the project objectives, the financial and economic infrastructures of the local communities will be improved upon which will go a long way to increase the incomes of artisanal fishermen and other local people in the community. Fishermen/women will be able to preserve their excess fish for future markets. Through the provision of solar lighting systems, about 50 households will directly experience an increase in standards of living as money which was initially used for the purchase of fuel will be used for other investments.
The project will also educate and raise awareness of the general island communities through the Tiko-Limbe 3 Islands Community Conservation Network (TiLICCoN) which will be legalised. They will be educated on best conservation practices and the fight against island pollution for sustainability.
Challenges faced by Tiko-Limbe 3 island Communities
Island communities in this locality face a litany of challenges. The continuous depletion of the mangrove has resulted in floods that come in a particular period Of the year. This sometimes leads to the destruction of property.
Another serious challenge these communities are facing is the lack of social amenities such as portable water, health centres and electricity. The island communities have limited access to health facilities because of the long distances they have to cover to receive treatment in the poorly equipped single health unit. This takes a good chunk of their already limited incomes, leaving them poor and unable to take care of their basic needs.
As concerns electricity, villages in the creeks don’t have electricity supply. People who own private generators for their homes and business places have to incur extra costs in purchasing petrol which is sold at very high prices. The majority of inhabitants of these island communities use bush lamps to light their homes.
Also notable among the challenges faced by these Island communities is the depletion of natural resources. As a result of the indiscriminate and widespread illegal mangrove logging which is behind the loss of the mangrove ecosystem. With the high demand for charcoal and timber in these communities, mangrove woods are heavily logged to satisfy this demand.
With the implementation of these projects, it is hoped that the attention of inhabitants of these local communities will be gradually diverted from the exploitation of the mangrove. “We want to thank Seacology for passing through us to conserve the mangroves of the Southwest coast of Cameroon and support local people with alternative livelihood options. We will continue to work with local people and relevant authorities to make sure this momentum is sustained after this funding comes to an end”, the president/CEO of ERuDeF, Louis Nkembi is quoted as saying.