Situated in the centre province some 100km from the Cameroon capital, Yaounde, the upper Nyong valley wetlands cover more than 200,000 ha. The area has been identified by WWF as one of the global 200 priority ecosystems needing urgent conservation actions.
The vegetation is quite unique and varied consisting of extensive ‘pseudo’ riverine mangroves consisting of pure stands of Poga oleosia (Rhizophoraceae), periodic and permanent inundated swamp forests, grass and raphia swamps; tropical lowland, gallery and ridge forests; within a dense hydrological network with flood plains, shallow waters, lakes and extensive sand banks. These varieties of habitat types harbour quite diverse fauna including species of conservation importance as monkeys, buffaloes, forest antelopes, reptiles (pythons, dwarf and Nile crocodiles, and fresh water turtles), fishes, resident and migratory water and terrestrial birds.
Sustainable utilization of wetland resources is being constrained by rapid population growth and expanding population. The nearness of this particular area to the national capital Yaounde has led to increased pressures notably fisheries as a result of urban demands. Despite the richness of the area in natural resources, the local communities remain poor because of ignorance of wetland functions and values, the use of rudimentary tools with lots of wastes and lack of a management strategy to ensure organised and sustainable exploitation of natural resources though the government have enacted a number of laws: Law no 92/006 of 14 August 1992 relating to associations, cooperative societies and common interest groups allowing persons in the community to form common interest groups to improve on their well being through secured access to credits and other externally supported schemes; Law no 94/01 of 20th January 1994 on forests, wildlife and fisheries with emphasis on community participation; Law no 96/005 of 5th August 1996 relating to the management of the environment; Law no 98/012 of 14th April 1998 governing the management of water resources including wetlands.
Phase 1- November 2005-September 2006
Despite its recognition as an important potential Ramsar site as Cameroon rectifies the Ramsar Convention, the Nyong wetlands have no conservation status nor the presence of any conservation intervention in the area. The project will address multiple conservation problems affecting biodiversity conservation in the region and develop long-term conservation strategies. CWCS given its experience in setting up multi-stakeholders conservation programs plans to start a project in Nyong valley using experiences and lessons learnt from managing Douala-Edea forest and wildlife reserve where similar conservation problems exists. The initial phase of this project will primarily focus on gathering baseline data on human activities, threats, assessment of biodiversity and conservation potentials of the area, community organisation into common initiative groups as well as the establishment of multi-stakeholders consultative platforms. The baseline data will not only provide good basis to develop long-term community-based conservation programme involving all stakeholders but will also facilitate the ratification of the Ramsar Convention.