The state of Cameroon’s mangrove forests is deplorable due to numerous destructive practices, according to local experts.
In a study entitled Threats to Mangroves in Cameroon, Ulrich Waffo, a Cameroonian academic, detailed the importance of mangroves for the country. According to Waffo, 80% of the fish species caught at sea depend on mangroves.
The wood found there is used to build canoes and make fire to smoke fish to be preserved. Rattans from the mangroves are also used to make furniture and many art objects.
Mangrove forests are also rich in oil and gas resources and also offer protection against swells and winds.
They are also an important source of income for the local population and a sacred place for some traditionalists.
But these multiple benefits are threatened on a daily basis
As of two years ago, the mangrove forests were 75% degraded. Today, this figure is much higher and the situation is worsening, Langmi Moses, president of a mangrove protection association, told Anadolu Agency.
Moses said the most serious problem Cameroon's mangrove forests face is overexploitation of mangrove wood.
"By cutting down mangrove trees that have been planted in less than three years and with the government's permission, operators are destroying the mangroves and preventing their regeneration. The Ministry of Forests and Wildlife sells the wood from these mangroves for less than one dollar. We can't reforest all the time when our work is destroyed after two years," he said.
"In 2011, a reforestation operation was launched by the government. However, it was led by men in jackets and ties who do not know the reality of this ecosystem. I have seen ministers ordering the reforestation of mangroves in inappropriate areas out of ignorance.”
The second problem, according to Moses, is the lack of reforestation.
"Mangroves are not difficult to reforest. The direct consequence of this problem is the construction of habitats on destroyed mangrove areas," he said.
He said the third problem is the government's lack of collaboration with those who really care about this situation.
"We have asked them for permission to protect the mangroves. But they asked us to pay an exorbitant sum of more than 13,000 dollars to be authorized to launch a community forest creation project. But how can such sums be disbursed despite all the goodwill?”
Jean Marie Tchouala Wabo, a Cameroonian forest manager, also cites overexploitation as the main cause.
"These mangroves are being vandalized under the watchful eye of the government,” he told Anadolu Agency.
He also blames "the laxity of national administrations and environmental ignorance.
"Our mangroves are facing anthropic pressure from fishermen, farmers and agro-industries, but also marine dynamics that create intrusion and erosion. We can also mention the non-application of laws," said Philippe Mbevo, an environmentalist and researcher.
"Population growth is putting pressure on this ecosystem, creating degradation and deforestation in places. There is also ambient climate change with the phenomenon of rising sea levels.”
However, these environmental actors believe it is possible to hope for a better situation if certain ways and means are employed.
"The first step is to start by applying the management and protection laws. It is necessary to promote a participatory approach such as this, and it is not enough to tell people to stop cutting wood. But they must be integrated into the processes of mangrove management and protection. For example, they must be redirected to other wealth-producing activities. Other than the abusive exploitation of trees," said planner Jean Marie Tchouala Wabo.
Philippe Mbevo's solution is the creation of a fish smoking system that does not require the abuse of mangrove wood to make fire.
"Human settlement in these spaces must also be regulated. In the Wouri estuary, for example, 80% of Nigerian fishermen abuse the mangrove woods to smoke their fish. We can create ovens that consume less wood," he said.
For Langmi Moses, "the authorities must require reforestation after each exploitation. So if they demand that 20 trees be planted in exchange for one tree cut down, Cameroon’s mangroves will regenerate within five years. Otherwise, they will disappear completely.”Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.