Biodiversity Conservation and Management Project, Douala-Edea Reserve

Dla edea reserve

Located in the littoral province, the Douala-Edea wildlife Reserve is one of the largest and biologically rich nature reserves in Cameroon covering more than 160 000 ha created by the French colonial administration in 1932.

The natural boundaries of the reserve are defined by major Cameroon rivers: the Wouri and Dimbaba in the north, River Nyong in the east, the Atlantic Ocean in the west and River Sanaga, the largest of Cameroon rivers with a total length of 918km with its 25 km segment in the reserve. Placed under category A, the reserve has a unique richness in biodiversity with varied vegetation types especially the tropical Congolian low altitude rainforest, permanent and seasonal innodated and extensive mangrove forests. The diverse vegetation types coupled  with the  dense hydrological network of rivers, lakes, creeks, sea, etc habour quite diverse faunal species of conservation Importance especially: forest elephants, primates (chimpanzees, monkeys), manatees, crocodiles, marine turtles, dauphins, sharks, over 132 species of fish , 298 species of birds with 70 species of water birds including local, regional migrants and paleartic species. 

Dla edea reserveThreats

With the management of the reserve ensured by a conservator and a single guard, the reserve has been under threat from encroachment and overexploitation of the forest and marine resources. Being situated within 54km distance from three major cities Douala, Edea and Kribi with an estimated population of 2.5million inhabitants which inevitably pose serious threats to natural resources in the region especially in terms of demand of bush meat and agricultural products to meet urban needs. Local fish exports from Douala-Edea to cities are estimated at 500tons per year generating Euros 1million. More than 4620m3 per year of mangroves is consumed as fuel wood for fish smoking by local fishing communities in the region with foreign nationals from Nigeria, Ghana, Benin, etc comprising 70% of the mangrove and coastal communities. Current rates of mangrove exploitation are judged rather unsustainable and may in the long-term result in damaging watershed functions and other biological values of this globally threatened vegetation type. As a major and important wetland area, Douala-Edea forest has to be protected and sustainable use activities by over 10 000 local population living within and at the periphery of the reserve  and other stakeholders encouraged for the region’s high and rich biological diversity to be preserved. Other major threats to biodiversity of the area include expansion of highly mechanised agricultural activities with rubber and palm plantations and petroleum exploration activities.

CWCS Intervention

Cameroon Wildlife Conservation Society (CWCS) has been working over the past 7 years in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MINEF) to implement a conservation programme in Douala-Edea forest region.

Project objectives: work in collaboration with MINEF and relevant stakeholders towards the development of a long-term conservation strategy for the Douala -Edea Reserve (DER) aimed at putting in place a management system that:

§  Seeks to protect the rich ecological diversity of the Reserve;

§  Promotes sustainable exploitation of the resources by the local population; and

§  Fosters socio-economic development of the surrounding population; and

§  to develop a conservation based management plan for the reserve.

Project funding phases

April 1997 – March 1999 NC-IUCN phase

·         Baseline biological and socio-economic inventories to address various resource potentials, use issues and threats

·         Setting up mechanisms for local participation (partnership development) in Natural resources management by working and networking with protected area authorities (MINEF), related government services (fisheries, education, agriculture, health, etc) to promote rational exploitation of resources and ensure sustained livelihoods.

·         Capacity building through training of young Cameroonians in ecological research, biodiversity conservation and protected area management.

·         Major achievements:

-       Development of biological and socio-economic data base and impact studies,

-       development of local institutional networks through community organization (15 community based organizations),

-       support to over 10 university students projects and volunteer work,

-       sensitisation and conservation awareness among major stakeholders and need for collaborative management of

   resources in the area

1999 –  Novib phase

 

  • collaborative and participatory management of resources with local population as key players to embrace conservation and developmental issues linked to poverty alleviation, gender equity, society building, policy influence and economic development of the region with the following programmes:
    • Project Management and Institutional Building focuses on putting in place infrastructure and building collaborative ties with local communities and administration to ensure successful execution of the programme;
  • Management and Participative Rural Development that comprises socio-economic work in villages (i.e. building of village based resource management committees, establishment and support to nature clubs for environmental protection in schools, sensitisation campaigns, boundary demarcation, etc);
  • Research and Monitoring involving conducting baseline / management oriented research, needed to consolidate and extend existing knowledge on the flora and fauna of the region, aspects of resource exploitation, threat analysis, etc.
  • The gazzettement process involving the zoning plan that resolves resources use conflicts, the ambiguous land tenure situation  and conservation problems through formation of multi-stakeholders consultative platforms
  • Realisations (summary):

-      Development of a strong project base in Mouanko consisting of 15 field staffs and infrastructure to facilitate implementation of field activities

-      Development of strong biological and socio-economic data base for basic ecological monitoring integrating socio-economic aspects

-      Development of a local network with over 30 community based natural resource management groups that include women groups involved in fishing and farming

-      Capacity building of CBOs and poverty alleviation: Technical support to local groups in various grass root initiatives such as supply of improved perennial crop breeds to improve local production, training in modern agro-forestry techniques, agric and NTFP processing mills

-      Support in building of efficient smoking houses to improve upon current methods of fish processing and also reduce pressure from mangrove exploitation

-      Local and national institutional development: Establishment of institutional linkages at local and national levels between protected authorities, relevant services, universities and other technical partners as Dutch Development Organisation, SNV through various support and conservation platforms and agreements

-      National capacity building through support to various national students and volunteer projects

-      Regional networks: Establishment of a West and Central Africa sub regional mangrove  network of national conservation NGOs of  the ‘African Mangrove Network’ to share experiences and collaborate in collaborative management activities that will integrate fishery communities in the region in overall natural resource management processes

-      Capacity building of national and regional NGOs backed by site and exchange visits with shared experiences and lesson learnt.

  • Gazettement process for the Douala-Edea reserve defined which may eventually transform the reserve into a national park that includes the marine component

Lessons learnt from conservation and poverty alleviation

·       Co-management experience has brought some positive fruits in the development in the region both in terms of biodiversity conservation and improved resource management geared towards poverty alleviation

·       Local, national and regional networks have been largely forged as indicated by large site and exchange visits with integration of lessons learnt and participatory monitoring encouraging adaptive management through ‘learning by doing’

·        Innovative approaches such as,  community organisation, provision of grinding mills to improve processing of agricultural and NTFPs, construction of efficient smoking houses to reduce pressure on mangrove forest, backstopping of GICs, gender support combined with basic applied monitoring and research work in Douala-Edea have provided very useful experiences in linking natural resource management and improve livelihood of local communities.

  • It has also been a rich and learning process working with the local communities and identifying some of the salient problems that affect conservation in the area. Issues related to collaborative management were discovered to be more complex than originally perceived. Solutions and strategies to be developed in order to address some of these issues will require more time, sacrifice and mobilisation of both human and financial resources.
  • The high degree of awareness on conservation and related aspects of resource management existing within the communities and local Administration as a result of CWCS activities provide solid grounds for execution of planned activities.
  • Regular on-the-site presence, follow up, communication and sacrifice in terms of time and resources build confidence with diverse stakeholders with conflicting interests.

 

Project Personnel

The Project is run by four major components namely: ecological monitoring and research; forestry; socio-economic and community liaison; finance and administration.

  • The Site Coordinator (Project Coordinator, PC) is responsible for the day-to- day management of the Project. The Principal Executants of the field components are: the Community Development Officer (CDO), responsible for the socio-economic programme, Project Forest Officer (PFO) for the botanical and forestry programme, the Project Biologist (PB) responsible for the zoological programme and a Gender Officer (PGO) for gender issues. There are also two Project Assistants and graduate volunteers whose principal role is to provide field support.
  • The Support unit, which comprises a Project Administrator/Accountant (PA), a Secretary and an office Assistant, handle all finances, purchases, maintenance and the day- to- day running of the Project office in Mouanko. The Project also employs a boat pilot, a female receptionist/day guard, night-watch man and other support staff in the villages (see Table for key Project Personnel).

Designation

Name

Qualification

 

Period

From

National Programme

Co-ordinator

Dr. Leonard  Usongo

B.Sc, M.Sc, Ph.D

( Wildlife Ecology &  Management)

1997

 Project Co-ordinator

Gordon N. Ajonina

B.Sc.F, M.Sc.F

 (Forest Resources Management)

Sept 1999

Community Development

Officer

Mekongo Fidèle

Maitrise, DESS (Sciences Sociales, Gestion des Projets)

August 2000

Forest/Agroforestry Officer

Gordon N. Ajonina

B.Sc.F, M.Sc.F

 (Forest Resources Management)

May, 1998

Biologist

Isidore Ayissi

Maitrise, DESS (Sciences Environnementales)

April 2000

Administrative/

Finance Officer

Ekoube Henriette Diba

DUT (Informatique de Gestion)

May 2000

Community Development Assistant

DIYOUKE Eugene

2eme Année Universitaires en Science Economiques

May  2001

Secretary

Mlle DJOUDA Carine

BTS Secretariat de Direction

October 2005

Cashier

Mme NKAN Gilbertine

Probatoire G1

February 2002

Research Assistant

Robert Mbakwa

Technical Certificate

1997

Driver

Bruno Laisin

F.S.L.C.

Nov 1999

Boat Driver

Timba Martin

B.E.P.C.

February 2002

Secretariat/Office

Assistant                

Mlle ESSOPI Fidèle

Professional training for Office Personnel

February 2002

Night Watch/Gardener

IGRI  Jean

B.E.P.C.

March 2005

Receptionist

Mme EKANGA Frieda

CAP

February 2002

 

Equipment and Logistics

 CWCS rents a 5-room project office located at main field base in Mouanko that provides facilities for both technical and administrative staff. The office has been equipped with computers and accessories, photocopier, etc. The Project office housing various Project staff has been furnished with tables, bookshelves and other working materials. A resource centre has also been developed and currently contains more than 1000 books. The project has two 4WD vehicles, 03 desktops and accessories, wooden boat with two outboard engines (25Hp, 40Hp), tents (05), and scientific equipment - GPS (02), other forest inventory equipment, etc