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

You May Like

US, China Have Dueling Definitions of Cybersecurity

Analysts say attribution or or proving that a particular individual or government is responsible for a hack, is a daunting task More

Snowden: I'd Go to Prison to Return to US

Former NSA contractor says he has not received a formal plea-deal offer from US officials, who consider him to be a traitor More

Goodbye Pocahontas: Photos Reveal Today's Real Native Americans

Weary of stereotypes, photographer Matika Wilbur is determined to reshape the public's perception of her people More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
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.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs