Upper Nyong Valley Wetlands Conservation Project

Overview of current status and conservation of Upper Nyong wetlands


The Upper Nyong Wetlands located within the Centre and East Regions of Cameroon is probably the largest and relatively intact inland wetlands ecosystem in
Central Africa.

 

The area covering more than 200,000ha is characterised by different vegetation types ranging from extensive ‘pseudo’ riverine mangroves consisting of pure stands of Poga oleosia (Rhizophoraceae); grass and raphia swamps, periodic and permanent inundated swamp forests; and lowland gallery and ridge forests ecosystems.

 

Biological inter-relations between wetlands, major river basins and dry forests may explain the rich biodiversity of the area with diverse habitat types that harbour wildlife species of global conservation significance such as lowland gorillas and chimps. Increasing pressures from logging  activities, shifting cultivation, illegal bush meat trade to Central Africa and Chad being the only access road area to these countries degrade the valuable ecosystem services provided by this rich wetlands systems putting the over 300 000 people dependent on them in danger. 

 

 Genesis of the project

Upper Nyong Valley Wetlands Conservation Project builds on work that was started in 2005 by CWCS drawing from its over thirteen years multi-partners and multi-donors experience in managing coastal forests, mangroves and wetlands in the Douala-Edea, an important confluence point for estuaries of four Cameroon largest river basins: Sanaga, Wouri, Dibamba and Nyong basins.

The project with office base at Akonolinga benefiting from a wide range of support from donors especially the Netherlands Committee of IUCN and technical partners such as Wetlands International-Africa Programme, GTZ, FAO, etc have carried out wetlands inventories; biodiversity assessments and threats; building gender sensitive local co-management institutions for poverty alleviation; sustained livelihood demonstrating projects for improved wetlands resource extraction and conservation.

 Project goal and objectives

The project goal is to contribute to improved livelihood and poverty reduction in local communities of Upper Nyong Valley by facilitating greater and regulated access to natural resources building upon an appropriate institutional framework that seeks to promote participatory wetlands management. The management of biodiversity of the area will require measures to be taken to address threats from illegal exploitation activities. The different land use types will have to be defined in consultation with all stakeholders. Management plans will be developed describing management strategies to manage natural resources in the different zones. A monitoring system will be put in place to monitor trends in natural resource use. Attention will be given to indigenous forest communities to ensure their needs are addressed through designation of community forest areas to guarantee access to natural resources. The project will build capacity of local resource persons to manage natural resources as well as establish management institutions to promote good governance. Conservation successes of this project will be replicated in other areas with similar problems. Lessons learnt and best practices will be up scaled at national and sub regional levels within the context of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership Program. 

Targeted groups

  • Government Ministry of Forests and Wildlife critical for the establishment of the protected area status
  • Local government services of Agriculture, fisheries and livestock for the technical backstopping and as resource persons for community organisation and capacity building programmes
  • Community by working with organised common initiative groups as pilot groups to benefit from capacity building programmes that can improve their livelihood by acquiring skills on modern methods of exploitation, processing and storage of biological resources products,
  • Young school children in nature clubs for sensitisation activities as future leaders of tomorrow
  • Private sector operators especially logging companies to implement sustainable resources methods
  • Other NGOs for synergy and policy influence

 

Project outcomes and activities

 

The project will provide good scientific basis for designation of protected areas for biodiversity conservation and development of participatory management models involving all stakeholders to manage natural resources in surrounding wetlands use zones. This conservation model is to reconcile between conservation objectives and development needs including contributions to poverty reduction within local communities. This largely builds from the resources and experience of the previous phases of CWCS work in the area.

 

This project capitalizes on results of previous with current phases especially with regards to gazettement of upper Nyong valley wetlands protected area, land use, fisheries regulation and Ramsar site documents and maps to delimit core conservation area for protection and multiple use zones. An ecological monitoring system with simple biological and socioeconomic indicators based on existing socio-biological data will be established and preliminary testing through complimentary biological and socioeconomic surveys. Existing stakeholders’ consultative platforms will be strengthened to facilitate regular consultations amongst stakeholder groups operating in the area. Poverty reduction measures will continue by building capacities of community organisation to access and manage their wetlands and forest resources communal & community forestry schemes. Priority will be given to existing local associations for farming and fishing to serve as models for developing community livelihood practices with creation of additional groups.