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Local communities take the lead in Restoring the Mount Bamboutos ecosystem through tree planting

Local communities take the lead in Restoring the Mount Bamboutos ecosystem through tree planting

Bangang village in the West region of Cameroon, just like other villages along the Mount Bamboutos is an agricultural hub. Majority of the population of this area are actively engaged in agriculture as a means of livelihood. Every near-by forest along the Mount Bamboutos is leveled down to make room for the ever increasing demand of agricultural land. This Mountain, it should be noted, is an important watershed in West and Central Africa. As inhabitants strive to survive, they consciously or consciously deplete the the Mountain’s ecosystem. The effects of this depletion are quite glaring.

In the the rainy season, taps in Bangang just like any other village around the Mount Bamboutos are dry as if to say it is the the dry season. The reason for this shortage or near lack of water is due to indiscriminate deforestation even around water catchments and bad farming practices such as channeling of water from water sources to  farms lands.

While we may forgive those involved in these bad practices along the Mount Bamboutos landscape, nature may not forgive them, the future of the yet to be born generation hangs in the balance. It is even more worrying that the effects of these bad practices are even glaring now.

This impending doom calls for a timely intervention. It is against this backdrop that the Environment and Rural Development Foundation continue to to engage communities along the Mount Bamboutos to plant trees in order to save the mountain ecosystem that is continuously being degraded in a geometric rate in man’s quest for survival.

The project to restore the ecosystem functions of the Mount Bamboutos by ERuDeF and ITF continue to strive to fulfill its 15 million tree planting engagement in what is known as the “Mount Bamboutos Initiative”. Tree planting for the year 2020 has witnessed remarkable progress with stakeholders at all the levels highly involved in the exercise. The exercise that started, April 2020 has continued through June across all the concerned villages along the Mount Bamboutos landscape.

Everyone is involved

Mr. Fekenj Felix, 60 is the father of 20.  He is also a traditional ruler of  Bangang, village west region of Cameroon. Mr.Fekenj  is one of the many enthusiasts of the Mount Bamboutos Initiative project. He is not only worried about the future of his 20 children but the future of the Bangang community at large if the mount Bamboutos ecosystem is left to degrade further. He has not only given out several hectares of his farm land for tree to be planted on but he is also actively involved in the exercise. “Years ago the Mount Bamboutos was intact, we had water in abundance in our village, but now the mountain has been evaded from all corners. Our taps are dry and if we don’t plant tree as we are doing now, am afraid the future generation will suffer a thousand time more than we are suffering now” said Mr. Fekenj, visibly very worried. The future he continues “depends on the number of trees we plant now. Am encouraging all my subjects to take it as a personal responsibility to plant trees around water catchments as well a riparian forest”

Sali Manu is a grazer by profession. He owns 60 cows, 15 horses and 30 sheep. The father of 13 just like Fekenj Felix is very worried at the rate at which the Mount Bamboutos is being degraded. Sali, as he is fondly called says his animals hasn’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 grace our cattle on. Now the situation is different, we don’t have enough land to grace our cattle on 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”.   

Mrs.Tacuzine Brigitte and her five Children all turned out for tree planting in Bafou Precisely at Femmock village in the West Region of Cameroon. Briggite says she is so enthusiastic about the Mount Bamboutos Initiative project. She is one of the most active Women as far as the Mount Bamboutos Initiative is concerned at the level of her native, Bafou. “We have been suffering a lot in getting potable water. My kids have to trek for long distances to get water. We are vulnerable to waterborne diseases like malaria. Look (Pointing at the direction Mount Bamboutos), the mountain is evaded, every forest is transformed into an agricultural land. With the Mount Bamboutos Initiative project by ERuDeF and her partners, we are now hopeful that the future of our kids is guaranteed, that the Mount Bamboutos ecosystem functions will be restored, and above all that water will be in abundance in my village as it used to be years ago when I was still young”, said Brigitte with a smile of hope in on her face.

Mrs.Tacuzine Brigitte

54-year Mboudjiko Louise is a mother of 7. She is the member of the Village Forest Management Committee (VMFC) at Babadjou village, West Region of Cameroon. She has been actively involved in the Mount Bamboutos Initiative project since its inception in 2018. Asked about what she will do to protect the trees that are planted in her village in her capacity as one of the VMFC members, she had this to say “I have taken it as personal responsibility to go around every site we planted trees to check on how they are doing. Any tree that dies will be immediately replaced. The future of my 7 children and my grandkids depends solely on the number of trees we plant today”.   

Just as adults are highly involved in the project, so too are the youths.  Emi Jeresse, 22 lives with his parents in Babadjou village. He is one of the many youths that are so determined to make the Mount Bamboutos Initiative project a success. “I am very proud be part of the train that will change the present trajectory of events that have depleted the Mount Bamboutos considerably. We are going to reverse this unfortunate situation. I want to personally thank ERuDeF for making us part of the project”.

Just like Jeresse, Floribert is a 23-year energetic guy who runs a small restaurant in his Bangang village. He closed down his restaurant for three days to take part in tree planting in his village. “When the Mount Bamboutos Initiative project started in 2018, I was I little bit skeptical, but now I have realized the importance of the project. I trek for long distances everyday, especially in the dry season to carry water to be used in my restaurant. All taps are dry in the rainy, talk less of the dry season. We are suffering and we can only reverse this unfortunate situation by planting trees” said Floribert visibly satisfied with what he is doing.

It should be noted that 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. 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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