Conservationists have joined forces with local communities to plant 10,000 trees from threatened species into community forests near Mt. Cameroon.
In a bid to enhance the conservation of several threatened tree species present in the Mt. Cameroon area, project staff from the Cameroonian NGO, ERuDeF (Environment and Rural Development Foundation) collaborated with members from local communities Woteva and Bankingili in two separate planting events.
Degraded areas within two community forests were identified before seedlings from the Critically Endangered African zebrawood (Microberlinia bisulcata) were planted alongside a series of Vulnerable species including African mahogany (Entandrophragma angolenses), red stinkwood (Prunus africana) and country onion (Afrostyllax lepidophyllus).
Planting took place as part of a larger programme supported by the Global Trees Campaign to increase local capacity to carry out tree conservation in Mt. Cameroon. The overall vision is to conserve and restore lost populations of these threatened species, whose populations have declined drastically over the last decade due to illegal exploitation.
The threatened trees species were initially sown at the South West Regional Delegation of Forestry premises in 2011. In collaboration with government Forestry services, ERuDeF nurtured the seedlings to maturity.
Generous donations from Fauna & Flora International supporters allowed the project to build additional nurseries in five villages that also contributed seedlings to the planting effort.
Planting within the two community forests followed guidelines laid out in their respective management plans, prioritising degraded areas of farmland for regeneration.
Using the taungya system, trees were planted alongside crops to allow farming to continue together with gradual re-establishment of trees in the area.
When the ERuDeF team arrived in Bakingili with seedlings of threatened trees ready to be planted, the community received them with enthusiasm and excitement and expressed gratitude to ERuDeF and her partners.
The Forest Management Officer of the Forest of Bakingili, Elive Thomas expressed joy in his words, “We are very happy with the gesture from ERuDeF to plant these trees at the Bakingili community forest, not just because today it has become imperative to plant trees, but these trees are special because they are threatened. It is a very timely gesture given that the community forest is a bare and naked area with nothing to show for as trees”.
During the planting exercise in Woteva, the Chief of the village, Woloko Bernard lauded the initiative and asked the community to embrace this opportunity, “We feel privileged to have gained such a favour to be given trees to plant in our forest and farms. These trees may not be for our immediate benefit but for the children and grandchildren”.
Through taking part in tree-planting efforts, people’s knowledge and attitudes on the conservation of threatened trees are also changing with most showing new understanding and appreciation for the relevance of the species. In a bid to seal the collaboration between ERuDeF and these communities, MoUs were signed with the communities pledging to take good care of the trees in the long-term.