Creating an ecological corridor through degraded forest lands and protecting critically endangered African primates.
The International Tree Foundation (ITF) & local partner ERuDef
Mt Bamboutos, Lebiahem Highlands, Cameroon
This project located in Southwestern Cameroon in the Lebialem Highlands forests near Mount Bambouto started in 2018. It aimed to create an ecological corridor through degraded forest lands and help protect and restore habitat for many species, including the endangered forest elephant, Preuss's monkey, the critically endangered Cross River gorilla, and the Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee.
Due to the complications arising from the Anglophone Crisis and coronavirus pandemic, the final phase of this project was completed in September 2021. At the time of completion, TreeSisters funded planting 512,487 trees in the area. In addition, 109 farmers created individual tree nurseries, four villages established community-managed nurseries, three farmers' groups established tree nurseries (with between 35 to 55 farmers per group), and seven central additional nurseries were created. TreeSisters is honoured that we have had a long-term and lasting impact on this landscape through your donations and support.
Hectares of forest
Protecting critically endangered gorillas (only 200-300 remain)
Since the project started, local partner ERuDeF has focused on building community awareness around the adverse effects of deforestation and the incredible value of replanting lost forests and habitat. They mobilised locals to take action through tree nurseries and tree planting. Following the project, 1086 people in the region have attended workshops about the importance of restoring the Mt Bamboutos ecosystem. 429 people (40% women) have also attended training sessions on nursery establishment and management techniques, contour farming and more. This will have a long-lasting effect on the area by developing skills to manage the Mt Bamboutos ecosystem sustainably into the future.
IMPACT ON NATURE.
Mount Bamboutos is part of the 'Western Cameroon Highlands’ volcanic line, one of the world's 200 ecoregions of primary importance. Mount Bamboutos include tropical wet montane forests above 1,700m of altitude, also called cloud forests, and tropical sub-montane forests in the lower slopes ranging from 1,100 to 1,750m. This project supported the urgent restoration of the Lebialem Highlands forests, decimated by overexploitation. Environmental groups and community leaders are also concerned about the rivers drying out and being polluted by soil erosion from the deforested slopes of the mountain and by intensive water use. It is an area of huge biodiversity importance and home to an incredible number of species that live nowhere else, including endangered species, such as the most critically endangered of all African primates - the cross-river gorilla, with only 200-300 remaining in the wild. This project provided an opportunity to rehabilitate their habitat through forest restoration.
Despite the catastrophic loss of the montane forest and endemic bird species (the area was previously described as the richest biodiversity hotspot for birds in all of west and central Africa), Mount Bamboutos still harbours incredible biodiversity.
While TreeSisters is saddened this project could not continue, we are proud to have been part of this powerful community-based initiative that regards the community as the agents of change. Local partner ERuDef is led by Louis Nkembi, who won a Whitley Award in 2015 for his work to introduce community-based landscape and biodiversity management to the Lebialem Highlands. Their research and identification work supports the conservation of endangered species and plants and has supported creating the first protected area system across the Lebialem highlands.