News / Africa

Cameroon, FAO Install Move to Protect Mangroves

 In the 70s, mangroves covered some 600,000 hectares along Cameroon’s 590km Atlantic coast. Today, only a third remains. (Cameroon Mangrove Network)
In the 70s, mangroves covered some 600,000 hectares along Cameroon’s 590km Atlantic coast. Today, only a third remains. (Cameroon Mangrove Network)
Ntaryike Divine Jr.

Mangroves play an important part in maintaining Africa’s coastlines and human livelihoods. 
 
The tropical shrubs and trees thrive in warm humid climates and can reach 60m in height depending on the species.  They and their abundant roots grow naturally around coastlines near the earth’s equator.
 
Hele Pierre is Cameroon’s Minister for the Environment and Nature Protection.  He says they play a crucial role in sustaining the life of the planet and its occupants.
 
They're a place where fish lay eggs and reproduce. They provide food and shelter for people and for fish and other sea life. And, they’re also a source of wood for kitchen fuel and smoking fish, and for timber for housing construction and canoe-building.
 
The plants also curb coastal erosion by reducing the power of tidal waves, while their intertwining roots and branches block pollutants including plastic waste that can choke fish.
 
Dr Gordon Ajojina is a longtime mangrove conservationist and chair of the Cameroon Wildlife Conservation Society.  He says today the degradation rate stands at 2,500ha annually, and is resulting in wildlife habitat loss and rising coastal erosion.  It’s also threatening the livelihoods of some five million coastline dwellers.
 
"Yes, really, this ecosystem is in danger," says Ajojina. In Cameroon, the mangrove surface area has reduced by about 30 percent in the last 20 years to less than 200,000ha.  So we see that with the rate of disappearance even within the sub-region and Africa, there’s a problem."
 
Mangrove conservation advocates blame climate change, the clearing of mangrove forests for oil and gas exploration, and for building ports and plantations. 
 
Despite their strategic importance, mangrove forests worldwide are being chopped down to near-extinction.  Forty years ago, mangroves covered some 600,000ha along Cameroon’s 590km Atlantic coast.  But continuing depletion has reduced the area to less than a third.
 
Other activities that contribute to the erosion of mangrove forests include oil spills, pollution, and overharvesting of wood for household uses.
 
It’s against this backdrop that the government of Cameroon has teamed up with the FAO and local NGOs to safeguard the country’s surviving mangroves and restore depleted zones.  The over six million dollar venture, dubbed Sustainable Community Management and Conservation of Mangrove Ecosystems in Cameroon, will last five years.  It was launched in February.
 
Julius Niba Fon is a conservation expert in the Cameroon Ministry of the Environment.  He says the project will involve communities residing within and around mangrove forests.

"We understand that the local areas have local development plans which don’t take into consideration this special ecosystem," says Fon. "We also have the creation of protected areas for mangroves."
 
Elsewhere, the effort will help build legal and institutional frameworks for the protection of mangroves, compile inventories of remaining areas and teach local populations how to use and maintain mangrove forests.  It will also propose alternatives to using the trees for cooking and for smoking fish. And, it will propose new livelihoods, like snail breeding, for those who use the valuable coastal habitats.
 
Dr Ajonina says though belated, the initiative is highly welcome.
 
"It is quite a minute amount, but it’s a start," says Ajojina. "A journey of several kilometers starts with a step.  This is a step in the right direction – a step to bring all the stakeholders together to safe what remains from the lot that has gone over the years."
 
In the meantime, FAO officials say the Cameroon mangrove conservation initiative could serve as a viable example for other places in West Africa, where claims of untapped oil and gas reserves attract investors, but threaten mangroves.

Listen to report on preserving Cameroon's mangroves
Listen to report on preserving Cameroon's mangroves i
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X

You May Like

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

Interior Minister Avakov says 91 people 'in positions of leadership' have been fired, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Moscow governments More

US Airlines Point to Additional Problems of any Ebola Travel Ban

Airline officials note that even under travel ban, they may not be able to determine where passenger set out from, as there are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone More

Nigerian President to Seek Another Term

Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Marie from: NY
April 13, 2013 2:52 PM
It is a relief to know that something is being done to protect the mangroves. I hope they are also looking at the industrial area near the Douala port.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid