Following the re-classification of the Ebo forest, located in the Nkam and Sanaga Maritime Divisions of the Littoral Region of Cameroon, many species are on the verge of disappearance just as the unique Biodiversity of this locality is threatened.
The information was revealed Tuesday, July 11, via a press statement by some Cameroonian civil society organisations, reiterated by officials of the Green Development Advocates, GDA, during a press conference held in Yaounde.
According to Henri Jean Tsogo Awona, Project Manager at GDA, the main issue concerning the re-classification of this forest is that it contains potential biodiversity found nowhere else in the world.
Thus, “more than 40 communities are riparian in this forest and this classified forest abound many sacred sites of these communities as well as provides them with food, and it is a pharmacy for the latter”.
Being a private state property of 68,385 hectares, classified as a Forest Management Unit, FMU, by the Prime Ministerial decision N° 2023/01630/PM of 27 April 2023, it should be noted that this act marks the second time the forest is been classified by same government official in less than three years.
Reason these CSOs are calling on the government to withdraw the recent Prime Ministerial decision classifying the Ebo Forest as a FMU, as this will have grave repercussions on the biodiversity, climate change, and community resilience as well as enhance the extinction of certain species dwelling in the forest.
The forest, going by civil society organisations, hosts the largest population of Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzees. It is the only chimpanzee population in the world with both the ability to crack nuts and extract termites.
Also, the forest is rich with forest elephants, at least 12 new plant species for science and diverse bird community. The forest tends to be an important carbon stock as the Global Forest Watch 2020 recently estimated that classified FMU stores around 35 million tones of carbon.
To this end, they are calling for the withdrawal of the classification decree N° 2023/01630/PM of 27 April 2023 and instead set up initiatives to enhance ecosystem services.
Likewise, they are also asking for the creation of territories and access conserved by Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities, ICCA’s territories of life, community forests or a protected area co-managed by the state and local communities.
Stating another remarkable issue hampering the riparian communities around this forest, GDA Project Manager held that there a number of alternatives are in line with forestry exploitation. That is, the forestry law allows communities to ask for the exploitation of a community forest of 5,000he renewable after 25 years.
“With the advent of forestry law in Cameroon, development does not follow suit in areas where there is forestry exploitation,” specified Henri Jean Tsogo while explaining the case of forestry exploitation in Yokadouma.
To him, forestry exploitation in the Ebo forest could possibly be a replica of the case in Yokadouma, wherein forestry exploitation is on going but development never follows.