Ecosystem Services

Ikondo-kondo IGA Climate change

Ecosystem Services (ES) are described by the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MEA) as “the benefits people obtain from ecosystems”. ES are usually grouped into four main categories:

  • Provision of services such as food, water, timber, medicinal plants etc;
  • Regulation of services such as flood, disease control, carbon sequestration etc;
  • Provision of habitat to flora and fauna and supporting services to nutrient and water cycling; and
  • Provision of cultural services such as spiritual, recreational and cultural benefits.

Ecosystem Services Issues in the South West Region

Protected areas found in the South West Region provide a wide range of ecosystem services with local, regional and global benefits, which accounts for inputs to local livelihood systems as well as to certain economies (bottling companies, tourism, agro-industry etc).

Despite this, the region’s ecosystems face increasing pressure due to:

  • Poverty and the development needs of a growing population;
  • Various demands competing for the same land and resources; and
  • Within competition, short-term economic benefits often prevail over sustainability considerations.

In recent years, Communal Development Plans (CDPs) have been elaborated for Councils as part of the decentralization process initiated by the GoC in the frame of the National Community Driven Development Programme (PNDP). Some of the sector’s development plans or selected development priorities depend on and or impact on ecosystem services provided by protected areas (such as Mt Cameroon, Barombi Mbo Crater Lake etc).

The Councils are therefore considered as significant partners for the promotion of compatible management approaches, which aim at the conciliation of development and conservation goals.

Climate change
Deforestation and forest degradation, through agricultural expansion, conversion to pastureland, infrastructure development, destructive logging, fires etc., account for nearly 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions, more than the entire global transportation sector and second only to the energy sector.

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It is now clear that in order to constrain the impacts of climate change within limits that society will reasonably be able to tolerate, the global average temperatures must be stabilized within two degrees Celsius.This will be practically impossible to achieve without reducing emissions from the forest sector, in addition to other mitigation actions (UN-REDD Programme).Within the framework of PSMNR-SWR, it is envisaged that financing the collaborative management approach currently being implemented by PSMNR-SWR through REDD+ money could constitute a form of formal recognition of the environmental services rendered by forest users that directly contribute to the protection and improvement of the environment of Protected Areas and their peripheral zone.The main objective would be to encourage their long local communities’ participation in collaborative management activities and in the preservation of carbon stocks and water quality.

Water quality

Mbonge Water Fall_Eco-Tourism - resized

Several wide rivers or even smaller streams in the South West Region represent an important source of water for drinking, fishing or even transporting goods. River poisoning is an unsustainable practice which has been banned from protected areas supported with the framework of PSMNR-SWR. The level of pollution from urban areas and agro-industry is constantly increasing in the South West Region. The maintenance of water quality there remains a major challenge to providing drinking water to the local population as well as support major industries such as bottling companies and tourism.

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In the Mount Cameroon area, at least two mineral water bottling plants are operational, tapping safe mineral water from the Mount Cameroon springs. Mount Cameroon National Park has planned concrete interventions at watershed level to maintain the resource. It is foreseen that the establishment of water funds could a viable financing mechanism to protect watersheds that serve large urban areas or bottling companies. Lake

Similarly, the Barombi Mbo represents a major resource for Kumba which is the biggest town of the South West Region. The State Water Company, “Société nationale des eaux du Cameroun” (SNEC), which is now split into two private companies, has been engaged in a Payment for Environmental Services contract with the local population. This scheme is no longer adhered to but provides a viable option worth following up with Kumba 1 Council which is now in charge of the Co-management of the Forest Reserve together with MINFOF.

Eco-tourism

Mana River_for Water Quality-resized

Cameroon has a number of world-class nature and culture-based touristic assets. The South West Region has an important population of Cross River gorillas and forest elephants in the wild. Mt Cameroon is the highest mountain, an only active volcano of West Africa.

With improved tourism infrastructures and services as well as proper marketing, visitor numbers could increase significantly.

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Mt Cameroon stretches from near sea level to an altitude of close to 4,100 m asl. It offers therefore a wide range of ecosystem and a large panel of touristic attraction for trekkers, birdwatchers, wildlife lovers. It hosts the annual Mt Cameroon Race of Hope that brings national and international participants and visitors. Located at a 90 minutes drive from Douala international airport and within the vicinity of two important towns, Buea and Limbe, it potentially constitute a world-class nature and culture-based touristic destination. The main touristic potentials of the park and its surrounding include;

  • The highest peak (4,100m) of West and Central Africa;
  • A continuous gradient of vegetation which stretches from the lowland forest at sea level, through sub montane and montane forests to alpine savanna at its peak;
  • A highly diverse and beautiful landscapes;
  • The rich and diverse endemic flora and wildlife species including threatened animals such for-est mountain elephants, chimpanzee, Francolinus camerunensis, Picathartes oreas, drill and other endangered apes and birds;
  • Proximity to the beautiful and unique volcanic sandy coastal beaches at the foot of Mt Cameroon;
  • Diverse cultures and cultural sites (traditional dances, Bimbia old slave village etc);
  • Picturesque nature sites such as volcanic cones, old lava flows, crater lakes, caves and water-falls;
  • Availability of some high standard touristic infrastructures (hotels, restaurants etc);
  • Local tour operators;
  • The presence of a Botanical and Zoological Garden in Limbe;
  • Proximity to International airport and road network

An ecotourism strategy has been designed for Mount Cameroon National Park with the framework of PSMNR-SWR and the same will be done subsequently within other PAs supported by the Programme. It is anticipated that ecotourism could contribute to the local economy and as well to finance part of PAs operational costs.