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:
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:
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.
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.
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.read more
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.
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.read more
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.