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

    Escalation of Media Crackdown in Turkey Heightens Concerns

    Critics see 'a new dark age' as arrests of journalists, closures of media outlets by Erdogan government mount

    Russia Boasts of Troop Buildup on Flank, Draws Flak

    Russian military moves counter to efforts to de-escalate tensions, State Department says

    Video Iraqis Primed to March on Mosul, Foreign Minister Says

    Iraqi FM Ibrahim al-Jaafari tells VOA the campaign will meet optimistic expectations, even though US officials remain cautious

    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.

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora