Freshwater and Marine Conservation Programme

Background Information

The coastal and marine ecosystem of Cameroon

Cameroon’s coastal and marine environment is located within the Gulf of Guinea. The coastal environment of Cameroon is opened to the Atlantic Ocean with a coastline of about 402km (Sayer et al, 1992). This coastline extends from 2° 20’ N at the Equatorial Guinea borders to 4° 40’ N at the Nigeria borders. It is located between Longitudes 8°151 E and 9° 30E. The coastline here is defined as the area extends from low tide mark to 60 km hinterland and to 200 nautical mile limits offshore. The continental shelf is about 10.600km2 with an Exclusive Economic zone (EEZ) of about 15,400km2. All aquatic ecosystems of this coastal plain of the Atlantic are covered within these limits, notably: ocean, coastal forests, deltas, sand dunes, mangroves, coastal rivers, estuaries, bays, lakes, beaches muddy coasts. The total drainage river basin is about 2.7 x 105 km2 with the Sanaga contributing the highest sediment load (2.8 x 102 km3 / year). The limits of the coastal environment start from the high tide mark up to 60km inland. The continental limit is illustrated by a hypothetical line drawn from the north to the south which passes through: Mundemba, Muyuka, Dibombari, Edea and Nyambessan. This line passes through the national provinces of South West, Littoral and South. The coastal climate is characterized by monsoon winds of the Guinea type, predominantly south-westerly. These winds cause humidity values to be almost always at saturation point. Wind speeds attain exceptional values of 18 m/s (April 1993). In general, average wind speeds recorded over period of 10years (1983 –1993) vary between 0.5 and 2 m/s (Sayer et al, 1992).

Marine Biodiversity

diversity of marine fish in Cameroon marine and coastal waters totals some 557
species, including 51 endemic species, 43 threatened, 59 reef associated, 131
pelagic, and 187 deep water. ( 11 major fish families
have been identified within Cameroon waters together with Shrimps, Cephalopods,
Sharks and Rays of which two (Serranidae
and Scombridae) are known to possess threatened
fauna. (Krakstad et al, 2006). However, a total of 20 species have been
documented as vulnerable, endangered, near threatened, critically endangered or
data deficient and likely to occur in Cameroon waters. (;
Fish Base, Chiambeng, 2006. These are listed in the
table below with their common names and status.

Fish species likely to occur in Cameroon waters

(Source: NBSAP, 2012)

Fish species Common Name Status
Rhincodon typus
Family Lamnidae
Rafinesque, 1810
sharks or white sharks
Family Odontaspididae
Rafinesque, 1810
(Muller & Henle, 1839)
(Bloch & Schneider, 1801)
(Bonnaterre, 1788)
Family Pristidae
Pristis microdon Latham, 1794
Pristis pectinata Latham, 1794
Pristis pristis (Linnaeus, 1758)
( Euphrasen, 1790)
and Manta rays
(Linnaeus, 1758)
and Sea horses
Family Gobiidae
(O’ Shaughnessy, 1875)
known from Victoria
Thunnus alalunga
Bonnaterre, 1788)
(Lowe, 1839)
Data deficient
St Hilaire, 1809)

Sea basses,
Dusky Grouper
Family Xanthidae
Indian Ocean coelacanth


twenty four species have been documented herein as likely to occur with the
Cameroon coast of which, 8 species have been identified in recent studies
including IUCN listed Atlantic Hump-backed Dolphin Sousa tseuzii (vulnerable) and the Humpback.

Table 2: List of Cetaceans species identified together with those likely
to occur in Cameroon waters and their IUCN status

Scientific name Common Name IUCN Status
spotted Dolphin
Data Deficient
Stenella clymene Data
Sousa teuszii Atlantic Hump-backed Dolphin Vulnerable
Delphinus delphis Atlantic Dolphin Least Concern
Delphinus capensis Long snouted common dolphin Data Deficient
Delphinus capensis Long snouted common dolphin Data Deficient
Tursiops truncates Common bottle nose dolphin Least Concern
Stenella coeruleo
Stripped dolphin Least Concern
Grampus griseus Risso’s dolphin Least Concern
Steno bredanensis Rough-toughed dolphin Least Concern
Stenella longirostris Spinner dolphin Data Deficient
Stenella atenuata Pantropical spotted dolphin Least Concern
Lagenodelphis hosei Frasers dolphin Least Concern
Pseudorca crassidens False killer whale Data Deficient
Orcinus orca Killer whale Data Deficient
Globicephala macrorhyncus Short finned pilot whale Data Deficient
Feresa attenuate Pygmy killer whale D Data Deficient
Family Zipihiidae    
Mesoplodon europaeus Mesoplodon europaeus Data Deficient
Family Balaenopteridae    
Balaenoptera borealis Sei Whale Endangered
Balaenoptera physalus Fin Whale Endangered
Eubalaena glacialis Atlantic Right Whale Endangered
Megaptera novaeangliae Humpback Whale Vulnerable EN
Family Physeteridae    
Physeter macrocephalus Large head Sperm Vulnerable
Family Phoeconidae    
Phoecoena phoecoena
Harbor purpoise
Least Concern

Marine turtles

A total of four species have been
identified as occurring within the project zone and its environs. Dermochelys
coriacea, Lepidochelys olivacea, Chelonia mydas, and Eretmochelys imbricate
of which are in the IUCN red list.

Marine turtle species within Cameroon coast and their conservation status

Chelonia mydas Atlantic Green turtle Endangered
Eretmochelys imbricate Hawksbill Critically endangered
Dermochelys coriacea Leatherback Critically
Lepidochelys olivacea Olive Ridley Vulnerable

Aquatic mammals: The
African manatee (Trichechus senegalensis) and Cameroon Clawless Otter
are important aquatic mammals within the mangrove habitats and abundant in
Douala-Edea Wildlife Reserve.

Mangrove ecosystem

In Cameroon, mangrove ecosystems are composed of six indigenous
species, namely Rhizophora racemosa, Rhizophora harrisonii,
Rhizophora mangle (Rhizophoraceae)
, Avicennia germinans (Avicenniaceae),
Laguncularia racemosa, and Conocarpus erecrus (Combretaceae), as
well as one exotic species Nypa fructicans (Arecaceae)
2007; Ajonina 2008). The mangroves are found in three areas, in particular:

  • The Rio Del Rey (100 000 ha), in the north
    between the Njangassa area and the Nigerian border covering all the islands of
    the Rio Del Rey estuary.
  • The estuary of Cameroon (88 000 ha), which
    extends from the mouth of the Sanaga River to Cape Bimbia where it cohabits
    with other systems such as river mangrove and estuary mangrove along the Wouri,
    Sanaga and Dibamba rivers (in the Littoral).
  • The Ntem estuary (2 000 ha), which lies at
    the mouths of the following rivers: Nyong, Lokoundjé and Ntem in the South

mangrove area (UNEP, 2007) dropped from about 272 000 ha in 1980 to about 195
000 ha in 2005 (a reduction of about 30 percent over a period of 25 years, or 2
500 ha/year of mangrove loss). Some mangrove pockets in Cameroon are still
relatively untouched and the most important can be found in the Rio Del Rey
Estuary, the Cameroon estuary and smaller estuaries of the mouths of the
Sanaga, Lokoundjé and Ntem rivers.

the Gulf of Guinea is not considered as one of the “world’s biodiversity
hotspots”, the Rio Del Rey mangrove, which represents half (50 percent) of
Cameroon’s mangrove and 10 percent of West Africa’s mangrove, is one of the
last largely intact mangrove ecosystems along the West and Central African
coast (FAO, 2018). In addition, the Douala-Edéa Nature Reserve (including the
peripheral area) is considered a unique complex of coastal vegetation with a
wide variety of habitat types, including giant mangroves along the coast measuring
up to 100 cm in diameter and over 50 m high, wooded sand dunes, freshwater swamps,
lakes and some giant forests on yellow clay soils. The resources of the
mangrove ecosystems give rise to economic, social and demographic pressure.
Indeed, the challenges relating to mangrove conservation in Cameroon are many: on
the one hand, these ecosystems constitute a source of livelihood for the
communities using these resources to feed themselves, generate income or reside
(access to land); on the other hand, these ecosystems are subject to pressure
from economic actors through urban expansion, agro-industrial development, the
development of port activities, exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbons.

of the Cameroon coast still have enormous potentials, despite the destruction
of about one third of their total area. They cover 2,700km2 (Valet,
1973) and serve several purposes such as:

  • Mangrove trees constitute excellent
    shelter for shrimps, mollusks, fishes and frogs etc.
  • Substrate for periphyton consumed by
  • Aquaculture and eco-touristic sites.
  • Nursery zone for fish and other aquatic

The red mangrove trees which are the most
widespread species in Cameroon (90% of mangrove area) have very interesting
properties which make them very useful (fire wood, construction of canoes,
paddles and houses, production of latex for construction of nets, etc…). This
species of wood can also be used for sculpture.

Fresh Water Ecosystems

The total extent
of fresh water in Cameroon is about 3960 km2 (MINEPIA 1997) distributed in rivers,
swamps, lakes and dams. Cameroon has a dense network of rivers, most of which
arise on the Adamawa plateau and flow north or south. There are five main
hydrological basins in Cameroon. These are; the Sanaga, Congo, Niger (Bénoué),
Chad and Coastal basins. Lakes also constitute important surface water bodies
in Cameroon. These lakes range from natural lakes (resulting mostly from
volcanic activities e.g. Lake Nyos, Barombi etc.) to man-made lakes like the
Yaoundé municipal lake.

State of Fauna

The fauna of this ecosystem comprise
mainly: aquatic bentic fauna, mammals, Birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish,
crustaceans and gastropods.

Benthic fauna: This is poorly documented except in the semi-arid ecosystem, where Lake Tchad has been found to host 3 groups of benthic macro-invertebrates comprising Worms, Molluscs and Insects.(Leveques et al, 1979).We find 5 families and 24 species of insects (Chironomides dominant (12 species), Tanypodinae (4sp), and the rest Orthocladiinae, Ephérnéroptères, Trichoptères); 3 families of Oligochaetes and 6 species dominated by the Naididae (4 species), with the Tubificidae (2species), and Alluroididae (1 species) and 2 groups of molluscs and 10 species dominated by Lamellibranches (7 species), followed by Prosobranches (3 species).

Mammals: Trichechus senegalensis (African Manatee) occurs in all the river basins, (Benouè and Kebbi Rivers, the Lake Chad Basin, Sanaga and Nyong Rivers, Kadey Sangha River but is now an endangered species. ( amphibious is common and widespread, including the floodplain of the Logone/Chari Rivers in the far north. Other large mammals resident in, or otherwise dependent upon, the wetlands, including the periodically flooded areas, are Cephalophus maxwelli, C. monticola, C. ogilbyi, C. sylvicultor, Felis aurata (South only), Kobus ellipsiprymnus, K. kob, Loxodonta africana, Maids gigantea, Panthera pardus, Phacochoerus aethiopicus, Potamochoerus porcus, Redunca redunca (north), Sylvicapra grimmia, Syncerus caffer, Tragelaphus euryceros, T scriptus and T spekei. Small mammals include Aonyx capensis, Atilax paludinosus, Herpestes ichneumon, H. sanguineus, Lutra maculicollis, Thryonomys gregorianus and T. swinderianus. Arboreal species include Anomalurus beecroftii, A. derbianus, A. pusillus, Cercocebus albigena, C. torquatus (South only), Cercopithicus aethiops, C. cephus, C. l’hoestii preussii (SW only), C. mona mona (South only), C. neglectus (SE only), C. pogonias (South only), Colobus badius preussii (SW only), C. polykomos satanas (South only), Dendrohyrax dorsalis, Funisciurus lemniscatus, F. leucogenys, F. pyrrhopus, Galago senegalensis, Heliosciurus rufobrachium, Idiurus macrotis (South only), I. zenkeri (South only), Miopithecus talapoin (South only), Myosciurus pumilio (South only), Nandinia binotata (South only), Paraxerus poensis and Protoxerus stangeri.( At least 35 species have beendeclared threatened.(Djoh et Diang, 1997; Decoux et a., 1997). In addition to most of theforegoing, mammals which visit the galleries and floodplains in the north include Acinonyx jubatus, Aepyceros melampus, Cephalophus rufilatus, Cercopithecus nictitans, Crocuta crocuta, Damaliscus lunatus, Felis lybica, Hippotragus equinus, Hyaena hyaena, Ichneumia albicauda, Leptailurus serval, Panthera leo, and Taurotragus derbianus, while smaller species include Felis caracal, Genetta tigrina, Mungos mungo, Viverra civetta and Vulpes pallid.

Birds: A total of 312 bird species associated with the freshwater ecosystem is reported (Decoux et al., 1997). Of these 216 are resident and 96 migrants particularly around Lake Tchad and the flood plains. Lake Tchad and wetlands support above 200,000 birds while the Waza Logone support above 320,000 water birds from 104 species and Lake Maga above 20,000 water birds. (Ramsar, 2012, Birdlife International 2012). Lake Oku situated in the Mountain/Forest sanctuary in the Northwest region is a site for the rare and globally endangered Bannerman’s Turaco (Tauraco bannermani) (Nsoh et al., 2006). We find that the river warbler Bradypterus grandis and Ploceus batesi (a forest weaver, endemic species) are typical in the south while Lake Barombi is known to be an important sanctuary for birds. Several species of birds are predators of fish and are found to be particularly abundant along the rivers. These include mainly Phalacrocora africanus, darter (Anhinga rufa), pied king fisher (Ceryle rudis), and the malachite king fisher (Alceda cristata). Birds of the northern floodplains have many species in common with equivalent floodplains south of the equator. Here Balearica pavonica, Coracias abyssinica, Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis, Haliaeetus vocifer, Leptoptilos crumeniferus, Merops bullocki and M. nubicus occur, together with herons, egrets, weavers, warblers, ducks and geese ( It is important to note here that the many lakes along the rivers in these wetlands now form important staging posts for migratory birds. Other species include: Owls, eagles, skimmers, darters, cormorants, and herons. (Reid, 1989, ECOFAC, 1998,

Reptiles: Three (3) species of crocodiles: Crocodylus cataphractus, C. niloticus and the vulnerable dwarf crocodile Osteolamo tetraspis or alligator are present in this ecosystem. At least 13 aquatic or semi-aquatic snakes are documented and include: Bothrophthalmus lineatus, Boulengerina annulata, Grayia smythii, Naja melanoleuca, Natrix anoscopus, Philothamnus sp., Psanzmophis sibilans and Python sebae, while Boiga blandingii, Dasypeltis fasciata, D. scabra, Dendroaspis jamesonii, Philothamnus semivariegata, Thelotornis kirtlandii and Thrasops occidentalis. Four (4) Tortoises and Turtles species notably the forest hinge-back tortoises (Kinixys erosa and K. homeana) and (Amyda triuguis and Trionyx triunguis) respectively have also been documented here (Reid, 1989; Foguekem & LeBreton, 2002).

Amphibians: The amphibian fauna in freshwater ecosystems is poorly documented. However, there is an abundance of amphibian larvae (frogs and tadpoles) particularly Amphilius spp. Adult males of hairy frogs (Trichobatrachus robustus) occur in some streams and rivers. The African clawed toads (Xenopus spp.) are cosmopolitan (Reid, 1989) here. Goliath frogs (Conraua goliath) are known in the southwestern Cameroon along the Sanaga River. These are the largest frogs in the world, growing to bodies of 12 inches or longer. They are carnivores, living off insects, crustaceans, fish and other amphibians and threatened. (; IUCN red list data, 2008).

Fish: The fish fauna reflects affinities with the major drainage basins adjacent to the region, the Niger, Chad and Congo Basins. About 496 freshwater fishes are known for Cameroon (Fish Base ( with 12 critically Endangered. The Tropical Humid Dense forest ecosystem is the richest with above 294 fish species of which 78 are endemics. (Vivien, 1992; Kamdem, 1998)Lake Barombi in the SW Region has 11 endemic species and one

Inland Lakes and Reservoirs

are a number of natural lakes in Cameroon. The largest is Lake Chad, of which
800 km2 (“Little Chad” phase) to 1 800 km2 (“Normal
Chad” phase) are Cameroon territory, or 8–40% of the lake area, depending on
the floods (Welcomme, 1979). Other minor lakes, amounting to about 1 500 km2 (Aubray,
1976), are scattered around the western region of the country.


Cameroon is drained from the Adamaoua Range along four major
drainage basins: Atlantic, Zaire/Congo, Niger and Chad. A watershed exists
along the South Cameroon Plateau separating coastal and Congo systems. The
3960 km2 of fresh water habitats includes large natural lakes (Lake Chad),
reservoirs on dammed rivers (Lagdo, Mappe, Bamindjing), crater lakes (Barombi
Mbo, Nyos), large rivers (Benue, Sanaga, 
Cross,  Mungo,  Wouri, 
Dibamba),  rainforest  rivers 
(Nyong,  Ntem,  Kienke, Ndian,  Lobe, 
Lokoundji)  and  thousands 
of  km  of 
first  and  second 
order  streams (representing  86 
percent  of  total 
freshwater  resources).

Within the plateau and coastal lowlands, the Atlantic drainage
system is also divided into three minor basins: West, Sanaga and South. The
Sanaga is the largest single river in Cameroon (over 920–975 km), with a 140
000 km2 basin. Flows range from 473 m3/s (March) to
57 000 m3/s (October), with a mean of 2 072 m3/s. The
river is characterized by a number of rapids and reservoirs. The West Atlantic
Rivers converge and create the vast Cameroon Estuary. In the south are numerous
very small rivers, among which is the Nyong, with an extensive marshland.

The Lake Chad Basin is the smallest river system in Cameroon, with
the River Logone as the main element which overflows into a number of lakes and
the Yaèrès swamp. Part of this system’s waters can join the Benouè system via
the Mayo/Kebi. Other rivers termed “Moya” imply seasonal flows characterized by

Generally, flow patterns of all Cameroon Rivers are typified by
rainfall. Equatorial conditions in the south create no flood peaks per season
(i.e., Lobe and Nyong). Further north, flows are continuous all year round,
with only one peak flood (i.e., Sanaga and Wouri). In the extreme north
Sahelian conditions typify one peak flood with dry periods for 6–8 months
(i.e., Mayo Tsanga). The ratio of flow per basin area (expressed as l/s/km2)
is therefore greatest in the south, declining toward the north.

Threats to Freshwater and Marine Ecosystems in Cameroon

Threats to Freshwater Ecosystems

Fresh water ecosystems in
Cameroon are home to at least 600 species of freshwater
fish (Brummett, 2007). Despite their values and
importance, many lakes and rivers, around the country are being severely
damaged by human activities and are declining at a much faster rate than
terrestrial ecosystems. The
threats to the freshwater ecosystems include:

  • Over-exploitation of fish and other species causing a decline in the population of freshwater fishes and many other species leading to high risk of extinction.
  • The creation of dams and water-diversion systems across the country such as the Lom Pangar dam, blocks migration routes for fish and disrupts fresh water habitats.
  • Runoff from agricultural and urban areas hurts water quality
  • Draining of wetlands such as marshes and swamps depletes fresh water habitats in Cameroon
  • There is aquatic pollution through the dumping of waste and sewage into freshwater habitats
  • Lake eutrophication from agricultural pesticides and fungicides

Threats to Marine Ecosystem

Deforestation/habitat destruction

Agricultural expansion into riparian and coastal forest areas and the widespread harvesting of mangroves have been the primary forms of habitat destruction, with significant negative impacts on local terrestrial and coastal biodiversity. Mangrove woods are heavily exploited for fuel wood use for fish smoking, charcoal production and construction materials.

Over exploitation

Overharvesting of biodiversity and natural resources though the use of unsustainable practices such as the frequent use of dynamite, cyanide, and illegal gear in fishing is causing the loss of biodiversity in fresh water and marine ecosystems


The fresh water and marine ecosystem, especially the Rio Del Rey site are degraded by organic pollution (e.g. human waste), agricultural chemical (especially pesticides), and petrochemical pollution. Poor hygiene and sanitary conditions in local communities degrade ecosystem functions and threaten biodiversity, while also contaminating groundwater and endangering human health in the region.

Extraction activities

The area contains significant mineral deposits. As a result, both oil drilling and mining activities pose a significant potential threat to the mangrove forest.

Introduction of invasive species

The main threat facing the area is the
alien invasive species Nypa fructicans
which is dominating the indigenous mangrove species (Doldman et al., 2006).

International conventions related to Freshwater and Marine Ecosystems

Government of Cameroon has made much effort to save freshwater and marine
ecosystems from further destruction through the signature of many legislations
and international conventions including the following:

  • The 1971 Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat. It is an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands signed by Cameroon on the 20 July 2006.
  • The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES, 1973) ratified on 05 June 1981 subjecting international trade in specimens of selected species to certain controls.
  • The Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer is a Multilateral Environmental Agreement. It was agreed upon at the Vienna Conference of 1985 and entered into force in 1988. It established a framework for the adoption of measures to protect human health and the environment against adverse effect resulting or likely to result from human activities which modify or are likely to modify the Ozone layer.
  • The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) ratified by Cameroon on October 19, 1994. It is an international environmental treaty adopted on 9 May 1992 and opened for signature at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro from 3 to 14 June 1992. It then entered into force on 21 March 1994, 1994 after a sufficient number of countries had ratified it. The delegates also agreed on Agenda 21, an action plan for the sustainable development of the planet in the twenty-first century, and on a broad statement of principles for protecting forests.
  • The Convention on the Conservation of Biological Diversity (1992): The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) has three main goals which are the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components, and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from utilization of genetic resources. In a marked shift from previous agreements, the CBD calls for a much more holistic approach to biodiversity, by recognizing its ecosystem, species and genetic levels.

Cameroon Strategic Plan for Freshwater and Marine Ecosystem

Strategic Plan for Freshwater Ecosystems

  • To promote sustainable exploitation of
    biological resources components
  • To promote measures and practices in industry
    and among local population to minimize pollution of water
  • To develop appropriate measures to reduce actions
    that renders the ecosystem fragile
  • To increase knowledge of freshwater biological
    resources and their value for beneficial 

Strategic Plan for Marine Ecosystems

  • To ensure cleaner production processes by mining
    companies, agro industries and other polluters
  • To promote activities that ensures the sustainable
    exploitation of biological resources.
  • To ensure that environmental protection norms
    are respected during development of infrastructures and plantations
  • To ensure the conservation of biologically
    important and sensitive habitat taking into account their representativity
  • To promote traditional knowledge for the use
    and value of marine and coastal ecosystem biodiversity and its components
  • To reduce man made pollution of marine and
    coastal ecosystem
  • To promote biodiversity prospecting

International Institution Involve in Fresh Water and Marine Conservation

Organisations such as, African Mangrove Network (AMN), Central African Forest
Commission (COMIFAC), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), United Nations
Environment Programme (UNEP), Global Environment Facility (GEF) and International Union for Conservation of
Nature (IUCN), have contributed through various projects and programmes on the
conservation of mangroves, biodiversity and sustainable management of natural resources
and poverty reduction in Cameroon.

National Institutions involve in freshwater and marine conservation

water and marine ecosystem in Cameroon is under the responsibility of many
government ministries including Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife (MINFOF),
Ministry of Environment, Protection of Nature and Sustainable Development (MINEPDED),
Ministry of Tourism and Leisure (MINTOUR), Ministry of Fisheries, Livestock Production and
Animal Industries (MINEPIA),
Ministry of Industry, Mines and Technological Development (MINIMIDT) and the
Ministry of Energy and Water Resources (MINEE). National non-governmental
organizations have also been involved. This includes: Cameroon Ecology (Cam
Eco), Cameroon Wildlife Conservation Society (CWCS) and Organisation pour
l’Environnement et le Développement Durable (OPED) have implemented various
mangrove conservation projects mostly in the Cameroon Estuary and Ntem estuary.

Water law of Cameroon

The most important legislation dealing
with water resources is the Water Code, particularly Law No. 98/005 of 14 April
1998 on the Water Regime. The 1998 Water Law contains a series of legislation
dealing with the sustainable management of water resources in Cameroon. It lays
down the Water Code and its enabling status. Article 2 (1)
of the Water Code provides that : “L’eau est un bien du patrimoine

national dont l’état assure la protection et la
gestion et en facilite l’accès à tous.” (Unofficial translation: Water is a national, common
resource which the state must ensure protection, management of and facilitate
access by all). From the provisions of the subsection above, the state has the
duty to ensure the protection and management of water in Cameroon. Moreover,
the Decree No: 2001/162/PM of 8thMay 2001 fixes the modalities of designation
of agents for surveillance and control of water quality (Article 1(3)); the
Decree No:2001/163/PM of 8thMay 2001 regulates the perimeter of protection of
water sources and treatment of water stored for potable use; Decree No:
2001/161/PM of 8thMay 2001 fixes the competence, organization and functioning
of the national water committee; Decree no: 2005/493 sets out the means of Water
Supply and Sanitation (WSS), public services in urban and peri-urban areas;
Decree No: 2005/494 pertains to the creation of the Cameroon Water Utilities
Corporation (CAMWATER). To date, water policies in Cameroon have been more
focused on expanding infrastructure (in particular networks of safe water
supplies) but less in managing watershed and wetland resources. Governance
framework and law enforcement are still too weak and financial means too scarce
to adequately prevent pollution and ensure sustainable watershed management and
the efficient and equitable use of resources. Other laws include: Law No. 96/12
of 5th August 1996 Relating to Environmental Management and Forestry
Law N° 94/01 of 20 January 1994.

Program Goal

ensure the conservation of biodiversity, socioeconomic development and wise use
of natural resources of the fresh water and marine ecosystems through research,
training, education and community engagements.


Conservation of Biodiversity

To Create and manage the Proposed Ndongere Marine National Park and Mangrove Community Forests.

To promote the conservation of freshwater and marine ecosystems and resources through education for sustainable development

Ecosystem Restoration

To restored degraded mangrove forest in the South West Region of Cameroon (Tiko, Limbe and Bakassi Mangroves)

To restore degraded riparian forest of major rivers, lakes and reservoirs in Cameroon (Lake Barombi Mbo, Barombi Kotto, Lake Oku, Bamendjin Reservoir, Lom Pangar Reservoir, Nactigal Reservoir, Mekin Reservoir, Lake Mbakaou, Lake Chad, River Nkam, Mungo River, River Sanaga, River Benoue, Logone and Chari River).

Local Economic Development

To support local economic development in mangrove communities in the South West Region of Cameroon (Tiko, Limbe and Bakassi Peninsular)

To support local economic development in communities around the target Rivers, lakes and Reservoirs.

Sustainable Finance Development

To support sustainable finance development in mangrove communities in the South West Region of Cameroon (Tiko, Limbe and Bakassi Peninsular)

To support sustainable finance development in communities around the Target Rivers, lakes and Reservoirs.

Gender Mainstreaming

To mainstream gender into the conservation of Marine and Mangrove ecosystems in the South West Region of Cameroon

To mainstream gender into the conservation of freshwater Rivers, lakes and Reservoirs.

Applied Research

To promote applied research for the conservation of threaten Marine and mangrove species (fish, birds, reptiles, Amphibians, and mammals)

To promote applied research for the conservation of threaten species (birds, fish, amphibian, reptiles and mammals) in the target freshwater ecosystems.


To create and management stakeholder forum in freshwater and marine ecosystems

To create and manage TOUs in mangrove ecosystems

To strengthened local capacity on existing policies and legal framework


This programme will focused
on the following sites:

Marine Ecosystem Conservation Programme

Marine ecosystem conservation programme will
focus on the Bakassi marine ecosystem. It is a trans-boundary site between
Cameroon and Nigeria. It is located in the Bakassi Peninsular of Ndian Division,
South West Region of Cameroon at the edge of the Gulf of Guinea. The area is
surrounded by five divisions (Kombo Abedimo, Kombo Itindi, Isangele, Bamusso
and Idabato). It has an estimated population of 150,000 and 300,000 people. The
primary productive sectors of the local economy are agriculture (commercial and
subsistence farming), fishing, and collection of non-timber forest products
(NTFPs), hunting, livestock rearing and forestry. The main activity of the site
will be focus on the creation and management of the Proposed Ndongere Marine
National Park.

Rio Del Rey Estuary

Map showing the Rio Del Rey Estuary in red rectangle

Mangrove Ecosystem Conservation Programme

The mangrove ecosystems conservation
programme will focus on the South West Coast of Cameroon and will target the
following areas.

  • The Tiko and Limbe Mangrove area which forms part of the mangroves of the Cameroon Estuary. The mangroves are located in Fako Division, about 30 and 35 km South of Buea  (Feka and Mario, 2008), the administrative capital of the South West Region. It has a total mangrove area of about 19,000 ha (Feka and Mario, 2008).
  • The Rio del Rey mangroves found in Ndian division along the border with Nigeria. The Rio del Rey mangrove occupies an area of about 100,000 ha and constitutes half of the total 200,000 ha of mangrove forest ecosystems in Cameroon (UNEP, 2007; Ajonina 2008). It occupies the seven subdivisions in Ndian Division. The subdivisions are Mundemba, Ekondo Titi, Bamusso, Isangele, Kombo Abedimo, Kombo Itindi, and Idabato (Figure 2).

Map showing the location of mangrove conservation sites

Inland Lakes Conservation Programme

It will focus on the following lakes and Reservoir

Bamendjing Lake and Reservoir

Reservoir is located in the Northwest and West Regions of Cameroon. The
reservoir is found within five subdivisions. These subdivisions includes:
Balikumbat, Bangourain, Galim, kouoptamo, and Ndop. The estimate terrain
elevation above sea level is 1150 metres. Constructed in the Bamendjin village
of Galim Sub-division, the dam mostly affects the areas of Foumbot, Foumban,
Galim and Ndop in the Bamboutous, Noun and Ngoketunjia Divisions in the West
and Northwest Regions, respectively. All these regions are located within the
Noun River drainage basin.
the dam construction, environmental and land security has been a major issue,
as evidenced by farmer-herder and herder-herder conflicts over land and
inter-tribal wars over land use resources. The Noun River watershed has been
highly degraded upstream by displaced farmers carrying out intensive
agro-pastoral activities, deforestation causing severe soil erosion, and
environmental pollution (Kometa and Ebot, 2012). This situation is compounded
by a drop in the water table and insufficient potable spring water from nearby

Map showing the location of Bamendjin Reservoir

  • Lom Panga Reservoir

Lom Pangar is an embankment
with a center gravity
section currently under construction on the Lom River about 88 kilometres north of Bertoua in the East Region of Cameroon. It is located about 4 kilometres downstream
of the Lom River’s confluence with the Pangar River and about 13 kilometres upstream of where
the Lom joins the Sanaga River.
The study area is located in the forest-savannah
transition zone. Phyto geographically, this zone is entirely within the
semi-deciduous rain forest.

  • Nachtigal Reservoir

Reservoir is situated on the Sanaga River near Nachtigal falls and is located
approximately 65km from Yaoundé, the capital city of Cameroon. The project area is located in the semi-deciduous
Guinea-Congolese rainforest. It is a transition zone between forest and
savannah. The vegetation in the area of the facilities is chiefly characterized
by forest galleries along the river and shrubby savannah maintained as a result
of bush fires, one of the main factors determining the regression of forest
stands inventoried in the zone. Disruptions caused by logging are visible along
the shoreline. The strips of forest found here are cleared for agricultural
purposes. Inventories conducted in
the impacted zones (construction areas, flooded zone) revealed a total of 366
plant species, of which 15 are tree species with commercial value and nearly
155 species, not endemic to the study area, are used locally in traditional
medicines and other traditional uses (non-timber forest products). Several protected bird species (Cameroonian wildlife
legislation) are present in the area. About 34 wildlife and 122 bird species have
recorded in the area. About 65 fish species
belonging to 16 families, of which 9 are indeterminate or new to science and 24
species endemic to the Sanaga. However, literature review shows that 21
additional species were recorded in the area, although they have not been inventoried
by catches. With the combination of both sources of information, there are up
to 86 species (from 18 families) reported in the area.

Mekin Reservoir

is Located in the South Region of Cameroon. The Mekin hydroelectric
power plant is in the Dja and Lobo Division, Southern Cameroon.

Map showing the location of Lom Pangar, Nachtigal, and Mekin Reservoirs

  • Lake Barombi Mbo

Lake Barombi Mbo or Barombi-ma-Mbu
is a lake near Kumba in the Southwest Region of Cameroon. It is located in the Cameroon
volcanic chain
, and is
the largest volcanic lake in this region. It is one of the oldest radiocarbon-dated lakes in Africa, with the youngest lava
in it being about one million years old.

  • Lake Barombi Kotto

Lake Barombi Koto, also known as Lake Barombi Kotto or Lake
Barombi-ba-Kotto, is a small lake in the volcanic
in the Southwest Region of Cameroon. It is a volcanic
with a diameter of about 1.2 km. There
is a small island in the middle, which is densely inhabited by the Barombi, a tribe of fishers.

Map showing the location of Lake Barombi Mbo Crater Lake and Barombi

  • Lake Oku

Lake Oku is a crater
on the Bamenda
in the Northwest
of Cameroon.
It is located at 2,227 metres (7,306 ft) on Mount Oku,
and is completely surrounded by cloud forest. Lake
Oku is one of the last pristine high elevation Crater Lake ecosystems in
Cameroon. It is the only known habitat of the ‘Critically Endangered’ Lake Oku
Clawed Frog, and the second known locality for the Vulnerable, rare plant Isoetes biafrana. Threats affecting this lake
include: introduction of fish and other exotic organisms (including pathogens);
sedimentation to the lake through degradation of the adjacent forest
(particularly through livestock and building construction); pollution of the
lake through littering by visitors and run-off of chemicals from adjacent road;
unregulated visits to the lake.

Map showing the location of Lake Oku

  • Lake
    Mbakaou and Reservoir in Adamawa Region

The Mbakaou Reservoir is located on the
Djerem River, in the town of Mbakaou in the Department of Djérem (Adamawa
region). It is intended to regulate the level of the Djerem, a tributary or
upper part of the Sanaga River.

Map showing the location of Lake Mbakaou and Reservoir

  • Lake

Lake Chad is a historically large, shallow lake in Africa. The Freshwater lake is located in the Sahelian zone of West-central Africa. It is located in the
interior basin which used to be occupied by a much larger ancient sea sometimes
called Mega Chad. The lake is historically ranked as one of the largest lakes
in Africa. However, its surface area varies by season as well as from year to
year. Lake Chad is mainly in the far west of Chad, bordering on northeastern Nigeria. The Chari
, fed by its
tributary the Logone,
provides over 90% of the lake’s water, with a small amount coming from the Yobe
in Nigeria/Niger.

Location of Lake Chad

Rivers Systems Restoration programme

River systems restoration programme will target the following river systems in

  • Mungo River

The Mungo River is located in
the South West Region. It has a catchment
area of 4,200 square kilometres. The river is 150 kilometres long, rising in
the Rumpi Hills and swelled by tributaries from Mount
and the Bakossi

  • Nkam

The Nkam
River rises in the Western High Plateau in the West Region of Cameroon, and joins the Makombé
to become the Wouri
. It is known to
tourists for the spectacular Chutes d’Ekom, an 80 metres (260 ft) high
waterfall about 30 kilometres (19 mi) from Bafang. To the south of the town of Dschang, the Santchou Faunal Reserve lies to the
east of the river.

  • Sanaga

The Sanaga River is a river of East Region, Centre Region and Littoral Region of Cameroon. Its length is about 600 kilometres. The
Sanaga River has its Source at the Adamawa Plateau. It is formed by the confluence of the Djérem
and Lom
in the north of the East Region. Apart from those
originating rivers, its main tributary is the Mbam River.

  • Benue River

It rises in the Adamawa
of northern Cameroon, from where it flows west, and through the
town of Garoua and Lagdo
, into Nigeria south of the Mandara
, and through Jimeta, Ibi and Makurdi before meeting the Niger
at Lokoja.

  • Logone

The Logone
River is a major tributary of the Chari River. The Logone’s sources are located in the western Central African Republic, northern Cameroon, and southern Chad. It has two major tributaries. The Pendé
(Eastern Logone) in
the prefecture Ouham-Pendé in the Central African Republic and the Mbéré
(Western Logone) at
the east of Cameroon.[2] Many swamps and wetlands surround the river.

  • The Chari River

It is a 1,400 kilometres (870 mi) long
river, flowing in Central Africa. It is Lake
‘s main source of water. The Chari River
flows from the Central African Republic through Chad into Lake
, following the Cameroon border from N’Djamena, where it is joined by its western and
principal tributary, the Logone

Map showing the location of rivers for the river restoration programme

Key Activities


The key activities include:

  • Creation of the proposed Ndongere Marine National Park in the gulf of Guinea
  • Management of the Proposed Ndongere Marine National Park in the gulf of Guinea
  • Creation of 7 mangrove community forest (Tiko, Limbe, Bamusso, Isangele, Kombo itindi, Kombo Abedimo, Idabato)
  • Management of 7 mangrove community forests
  • Promote Education for Sustainable Development in community around the Park
  • Support law enforcement in the Ndongere Marine National Park
  • Support ecotourism development in the Ndongere Marine National Park
  • Support continues Research and Bio monitoring in the Ndongere Marine National Park

Restoration of Degraded Ecosystems

The key activities include:

  • Establishment and management of mangrove nurseries
  • Mapping of Degraded mangrove areas  and riparian forests
  • Restoration of degraded mangrove forests (Tiko, Limbe and Rio Del Rey mangroves)
  • Restoration of degraded inland lakes ecosystems (Barombi Mbo, Barombi Kotto, Lake Oku, Bamendjin Reservoir, Lom Pangar Reservoir, Nactigal Reservoir, Mekin Reservoir, Lake Mbakaou and Lake Chad)
  • Restoration of degraded River ecosystems (Nkam River, Mungo River, Sanaga River, Benoue River, Logone and Chari River).

Support Local Economic Development

Key activities include:

  • Mobilization and sensitization of local communities in the target freshwater and marine landscapes
  • Promotion of aquaculture development
  • Promotion of sustainable agriculture
  • Promotion of cottage Industry

Support Sustainable Finance Development

Key activities:

  • Support the development of cooperatives and Microfinance institutions
  • Creation of Micro finance scheme called the Biodiversity Community Trust (BCT) a savings and loans scheme
  • Establishment of cooperative enterprises
  • Creation and legalization of the Forest Protection Fund

Gender Mainstreaming

Key activities:

  • Strengthened women capacity on freshwater and marine conservation
  • Empowering of women financially

Applied Research 

Key activities:

  • Training of local stakeholders to conduct research and biomonitoring in freshwater and marine ecosystems.
  • Conduct annual surveys in collaboration with local stakeholders on threatened species (fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals).
  • Conduct annual surveys on the structures and ecology of mangroves and other threaten flora species.
  • Support local community in collecting and reporting monthly data of species in the target freshwater and marine landscapes

Promote Effective Landscape Governance

Key Activities:

  • Create and support Stakeholder forum/platform       
  • Training of Eco-guards and community guides/rangers
  • Strengthened local communities rangers on existing policies and Legal framework

Problem Analysis

rich species abundance biodiversity has made it one of the world’s biodiversity
hotspots. With a total freshwater landmass of 3960 km2 (MINEPIA 1997) and a coastline that stretches
for about 360 km
(FAO, 1987), Cameroon host about 600 fresh and saline water fishes (Brummett,
2007) as
well as species of crustaceans, mollusks, amphibians, reptiles, mammals and
birds. However, there is increasing loss of biodiversity in Cameroon’s freshwater
and marine ecosystems. The major causes are habitat destruction through agricultural
expansion into coastal forest and riparian forest areas, widespread harvesting
of mangroves and other forest tree species, the over-exploitation of selected
fish species to supply trans-boundary markets, and the frequent use of dynamite,
cyanide, and other illegal gears in fishing, Pollution, mining activities, dam
construction and the introduction of invasive species. This is mainly due to
the lack of integrated ecosystem services management plan, lack of law
enforcement, education and training. These causes to biodiversity loss need
immediate intervention without which the resulting consequences will be the
rapid degradation of the freshwater and marine resource base, the rapid expansion
of the agricultural frontier, loss of threatened species of fauna and flora
with the livelihood of the local populations threatened. However, if these
causes are given maximum attention, it will ensure the recovery of degraded
mangrove and riparian forests, the adoption of sustainable practices by most
resource users, the development and implementation of an integrated ecosystem
services management plan, the effective management and conservation of freshwater
and marine resources and will also improve on the livelihood of the local

Methods of Implementation

Freshwater and marine programme will be implemented in a collaborative manner
involving all stakeholders directly or indirectly interested in the natural resources
of the targets freshwater and marine ecosystems. Using a participatory approach
will help all interested groups to participate in the development of one vision
for the sustainable use and management of the ecosystems.

Creation of the proposed Ndongere national
park and mangrove community forests will be carried out through a series of biological
and socioeconomic surveys and stakeholder’s consultation meetings. A management
plan will be prepared on the basis of biophysical and socioeconomic data and
the outcomes of consultation meetings.

Forest restoration will be carried out
through the participatory management of nurseries and planting of seedlings.
The local communities will be trained on nurseries management through training
and sensitization workshops. 

economic activities will be generated through mobilization, surveys, training
and sensitization of local communities.

Sustainable finance development will be
promoted and supported through the creation of cooperatives, cooperatives
enterprises and  Forest Protection Fund. The
cooperatives will be created through need assessment surveys, mobilization of
communities, training and sensitizations.

Gender mainstreaming will involve a series
of mobilization, training and sensitization meetings.

Applied Research will be conduct through
appropriate scientific research methods.

A participatory monitoring and evaluation
system will be established to monitor progress in the implementation of the projects.


Freshwater and Marine Landscape Conservation Programme will achieve the
following outputs:

  • The Proposed Ndongere Marine National Park and 7 Mangrove Community Forests will be created and managed.
  • At least 1 million mangrove trees planted to restore degraded mangrove forests and 2 million indigenous trees planted to restore degraded riparian forests.
  • Income generating activities such as cottage industry, aquaculture, and sustainable agriculture initiated with technical and financial support provided to at least 10000 local people within the targets freshwater and marine landscapes.
  • At least 15 small size cooperatives, microfinance institutions and cooperative enterprises established in communities around the targets freshwater and marine ecosystems.
  • At least 10000 women enhanced and involve in the conservation of freshwater and marine ecosystem
  • Data base of the threaten species of freshwater and marine ecosystem established and published in journals and ERuDeF website
  •  At least 10000 local people including government officials, Eco guards, and field guides/rangers strengthened and supported.


  • Effective management and protection of marine and mangrove ecosystems through the management of Marine protected area and mangrove community forests.
  • Degraded freshwater and mangrove forest ecosystems restored and protected
  • Increased income of at least 10000 local population in the targets freshwater and marine landscapes
  • Effective running and management at least 15 Cooperatives, Microfinance institutions and cooperative enterprises for local development in the landscapes.
  • An enhance community of at least 10000 women actively involved and participating in the conservation of freshwater and marine ecosystems.
  • Publication of research papers in journals, monthly articles published in the ERuDeF E-newsletter, ERuDeF Green Vision newspaper and ERuDeF Conservation Impact Magazine.
  • Eco-guards and the local community actively involved in enforcing wildlife and forestry law of Cameroon as well as other treaties ratified by Cameroon.

Programme Governance

Environment and Rural Development foundation (ERuDeF) is the main executing
agency for this Freshwater and Marine Programme. ERuDeF is an award-winning
non-profit Cameroonian conservation organization established in 1999 with the mission
to conserve biodiversity and protect fragile Ecosystems through training, research,
education, and community engagement.

has put in place an implementation team that comprise of the following persons:

  • ERuDeF Vice President in Charge of Science
  • National Programme Manager
  • Landscape Programme Coordinator
  • Budget and Finance Officer
  • Accountant
  • Monitoring And Evaluation Officer

Security and Risks Analysis

risks that might change the programme objectives and outcomes will be
identified throughout the programme life cycle. However, some risks which might
impact the programme identified from risk repository, checklist analysis and
project status are categorized into

  • Project management: These include inadequate planning, schedule, communication gaps, poor estimations etc. the probability of these risks occurring is very low and measures will be taken to eliminate it completely.
  • Political: these include lack of collaboration of government officials, chiefs, and elite and other important stakeholders. The probability here can be very high but a response plan will be put in place to eliminate or lower occurrence.
  • Organizational: these include limited logistics, resources and budget to run the programme. The probability of occurrence of these risks is low as a sustainability plan will be developed.
  • Technical: These include technology, performance base and quality delivery. The probability of risk occurrence is low as an experienced implementation team will be put in place.
  • Physical risks: This includes external hazards such as terrorism and disease outbreak which might occur during project implementation leading to a halt in the project.

Monitoring, Evaluation and Impact Learning

Monitoring and evaluation will be performed as an
ongoing management and learning activity, supported by periodic external
independent reviews. A Monitoring, Evaluation and Impact Learning
plan will be developed to assist the management of the programme as well as an
instrument to measure progress by the partners. Outputs of the programme will
be measured using monitoring procedures. Activities are tracked through
contracts and reports and measured against outputs planned on an annual work
planning and project cycle basis. The outputs are specified in the Log Frame
matrix and in the annual work plans. They will be reported against in the
regular progress reports.

Sustainability of the Freshwater and Marine Landscape Programme

This sustainability plan
will focus on community sustainability, financial sustainability and
organizational sustainability.

community sustainability, the programme will ensure that local people feels
like the programme is theirs. This is to ensure the success of the programme as
it is very clear
that without the support of the community, many projects have no chance of
survival. The local communities (beneficiaries) will be involved in planning
and implementation of the programme at all stages.

financial and organizational sustainability, the programme will secure external
and internal funding sources. The external funding sources will be grants from
some of the partners ERuDeF has been working with such as the Global Environment
Facility (GEF), Sustained 365 Australia, Zoological Society of London UK,
African Conservation Foundation UK and International Conservation Fund of

The internal funding sources will be the development
of an ecotourism programme that will bring in international volunteers. They
will also be the limited exploitation of natural resource like mangrove, fish
for cottage industries. They will also be value chain development of the Non-Timber Forest
Products and their integration into the Access and Benefit Sharing Initiative.

Global partnership programme

A successful conservation and development programme requires
partnerships between governments, the private sector and civil society. These
inclusive partnerships built upon principles and values, a shared vision, and
shared goals that place people and the planet at the centre, are needed at the
global, regional, national and local level. The Environment and Rural
development foundation (ERuDeF) has been working with a wide range of partners
and will continue to build on this partnership to support the conservation of freshwater
and marine ecosystems. This partnership include a memorandum of understanding
with government ministries such the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife (MINFOF),
Ministry of Environment, Nature Protection and sustainable development
(MINEPDED). ERuDeF will also create new partnership with the United Nations
Environment programme, Global Environment Facility, Total Foundation, Oceana, Pew Charitable Trust, Conservation Foundation,
Mangroves Foundation and The Global Nature Fund for the conservation of freshwater
and marine ecosystems.

Dissemination of Results

of the projects will be communicated and disseminated to various stakeholders
through the various means:

  • Project
    results will be presented in the forms of flyers, reports, and magazine and
    distributed to all the stakeholders.
  • Sharing
    of  project results through social media
  • Summarizing
    findings in progress reports for funders
  • Disseminating
    results on the ERuDeF website, E – newsletter and Green vision newspaper
  • Discussing
    project activities and results on the local radio and TV programmes
  • Publishing
    information in Journal