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

    In Britain, The Sun Still Doesn’t Shine

    Invoking Spitfires and Merlin, Leave voters insist country can be great again, following surprising 'Brexit' vote last week

    Double Wave of Suicide Bombings Puts Lebanon, Refugees on Edge

    Following suicide bombings in Christian town of Al-Qaa, on Lebanon's northeast border with Syria, fears of further bombings have risen

    US Senators Warned on Zika After Failing to Pass Funding

    Zika threats and challenges, as well as issues of contraception and vaccines, spelled out as lawmakers point fingers

    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.
    Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeasti
    X
    June 29, 2016 6:15 PM
    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora