New rainforest sanctuary in Cameroon already at risk from plantations, hunting
September 15, 2008
The forests of southern Cameroon bordering Gabon are biodiversity-rich and harbor important populations of gorillas, chimpanzees, and elephants. In 1998 the government of Cameroon established the Mengamé Gorilla Sanctuary and in 2002, working in close partnership with the government of Cameroon, the Jane Goodall Institute launched a project to protect habitat and biodiversity in the reserve while creating a connection between conservation and socio-economic improvement in communities bordering the sanctuary. The sanctuary now plays an important role in emerging trans-boundary protected area initiatives.
Mapping and profiling the vegetation of the gorilla sanctuary is still ongoing but a new paper published in French in the open-access journal Tropical Conservation Science reveals important progress in this direction. The authors, led by Fongnzossie Fedoung Evariste of the Université de Yaoundé, report the presence in the sanctuary of 10 different forest habitats characterized by high indices of tree diversity and high densities of trees per hectare. The authors argue that the 10 habitat units are of equal conservation importance and warn of a number of activities within the reserve buffer zone including extensive fishing, hunting, and non-timber forest production and collection; establishment of cocoa and banana plantations; and expansion of itinerant agriculture.
Co-authors of the paper include researchers from the Jane Goodall Institute in Cameroon and the Université de Yaoundé as well as local Baka pygmies.
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