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Project information: Cameroon Biodiversity

    Protection of natural resources

    Irreplaceable ecosystems with rich biodiversity

    Map of Cameroon

    As of: 11/2022

    Cameroon is home to an immeasurable wealth: The forests in the southwest of the country are among the most diverse in Africa. Many of the animals and plants living here are endemic, i.e. they are only widespread in this region. However, this wealth is under threat. Illegal activities such as logging, poaching and over-exploitation of natural resources threaten this unique ecosystem. On behalf of the German Federal Government, KfW is helping Cameroon to manage its conservation areas more effectively and to involve the local population in their preservation. After all, sustainable conservation cannot be achieved without the support of people in the surrounding villages.

    Project titleProject title Sustainable resource management in southwestern Cameroon
    Commissioned byCommissioned by Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
    Country/RegionCameroon
    Project partnersProject partner Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife (MINFOF)

    Current situation

    elephants standing next to each other
    In the Mount Cameroon National Park, the elephants are safe from poachers.

    Southwest Cameroon is part of the Gulf of Guinea and is one of the eight most important hot spots for biodiversity in Africa. This means that they are not only very important for Cameroon, but also for the world as a whole.

    The species found here are often endemic, so they are only found in this region. These include many primates such as the Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee subspecies, the Cross River gorilla, the drill, the Preuss’s red colobus or the Preuss’s guenon.

    However, valuable ecosystems are subject to a variety of threats: Competing land use interests such as agriculture, mining and agro-industrial projects destroy and fragment the habitat of many species. Previously, people in the region have also lived off illegal logging and poaching.

    State funds for the management of protected areas have not been sufficient to effectively counter threats such as poaching and overuse. The local, largely very poor population was not sufficiently involved and their living conditions were extremely challenging, which led to a rather negative attitude towards nature conservation.

    Project approach

    On behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), KfW is working with non-governmental organisations and other partners to support better administration of Cameroon’s conservation areas. An important element here is the involvement of the local population of 171 villages to date, which are also supported in their socio-economic development.

    The people in these villages are involved in protected area management, as defined in jointly signed conservation and development agreements. These include, for example, the control of the boundaries of the protected areas, joint monitoring missions in the parks with the park rangers, wildlife monitoring as well as the maintenance and management of ecotourism facilities. People who have lived from hunting up to now are encouraged to give it up. They receive vocational training, opportunities for livestock farming or beekeeping. Selected young people from the neighbouring areas are supported with scholarships for environmental and forestry studies and schoolchildren participate in nature conservation education in environmental clubs.

    Development measures are also being implemented in the villages, for example to increase agricultural productivity (such as improved cultivation of cocoa and cassava) and to use natural resources more sustainably. Plants and fruit may continue to be collected in certain parts of the protected areas, where the neighbouring villages enjoy exclusive rights of use. Socio-economic infrastructure measures, such as the water supply or the construction of roads to the nearest markets, benefit everyone. The jointly agreed activities are recorded in half-year plans.

    The project helps to ensure that existing laws on the protection of natural resources are implemented more effectively. Since residents benefit from the new opportunities, they are strongly committed to the protected areas.

    Impact

    In addition to the existing national parks, two new ones have been established, namely Mount Cameroon and Takamanda National Park, which together cover 123,000 hectares. The project thus supports the management of a total of four national parks and a wildlife reserve with a total area of 345,000 hectares. Work has started to set up two cross-border biosphere reserves with neighbouring Nigeria and wildlife corridors between the protected areas. The project continues to contribute to solving land use conflicts in the protected areas.

    In addition, the national parks were better equipped, for example two lodges for ecotourism were built in Mount Cameroon National Park, administrative buildings for two national parks were built and various equipment was procured.

    Residents of 120 villages are now committed to preserving the protected areas. More than 13,000 families were able to increase their income through improved agricultural productivity. This also reduces deforestation. The marketing of agricultural products is facilitated by the construction and renovation of more than 150 kilometres of dirt roads and bridges, which makes it possible to reach markets more quickly. In addition, the organisation of 15 producer groups in cooperatives was supported and the preparation of business plans was taught. A total of 24 water supply projects have been carried out in 40 villages, with three more still under construction.

    More than 300,000 seedlings were raised and planted for agroforestry measures on cocoa farms, planting in village forests and on park borders. Local hunters are now also participating in the conservation of the protected areas. More than 10,000 traps were removed and around 50 hunting weapons were handed over to the authorities. The former hunters have tapped into alternative sources of income through the project.

    The once rather reluctant attitude of the local population towards nature conservation has improved as a result of participation. A new concept for education on conservation has been put into practice with the Integrated Conservation Education Centre (ICEC), which is housed in Limbe’s Botanical Garden and houses a permanent exhibition of six key species of the Southwest Region’s protected areas, as well as offices, a conference centre, a herbarium and study trip accommodation.

    The programme thus contributes to the more effective protection of the valuable ecosystems in southwest Cameroon.

    The project contributes to the achievement of these following United Nations Sustainable Development Goals:

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