Mt Bamboutos Forest Reforestation Project
Mt Bamboutos constituting part of the Mount Bamboutos highlands is situated 200km NE from the Cameroon Mountain at the following grid references; 09o55’, 09o15’E and 05o25’, 05o 50’N (Tefogoum et al, 2009). Taking into consideration the Gulf of Guinea region within which this mountain falls, there is high resultant ecological diversity combined with high species richness, high endemism and high threats making this mountain area a classic “biodiversity hot spot” and therefore a high global priority for conservation (Achard et al.1998 and Oates et al. 2004). Some of the threatened biodiversity species of high endemism include the primates (gorillas, chimpanzees, drills etc), birds (the Banamann’s turaco, the banded eyed wattle etc), amphibians and reptiles.
The Bamboutos Mountain Forest was gazetted as a protected area some one hundred years ago by the Germans. This was later confirmed by decision No. 223 of 10th June 1948 by the French. The reserve covered an area of 222 ha. By 2004, almost 80% of this area has been converted into farm and grazing lands (Tangwa, 2005). The Bamboutos Mountain is a tower for many major rivers in Cameroon including Mbam, Mifi, Noun, Nkam and Manyu and has a population density of over 200 persons per sq km.
The major causes of landslides in the past have been; poverty, ignorance and very poor environmental management practices by the mountain communities. The western Highlands of Cameroon has been is a model case because of the seriousness and acute nature of these landslides occurring here compared to other mountain communities in Cameroon.
The mismanagement of the Bamboutos mountain forest has resulted to the following consequences; the natural forest made up of Chinese bamboos is almost no more, drying up of springs on hillsides, increasing number of eucalyptus plantations, increasing involvement of local people in the market gardening sub-sector which is rapidly causing serious soil degradation.
Since 1957 till date, the Lebialem Highlands/Mt Bamboutos alone, have recorded the highest number of landslides, destruction of arable and productive landscapes and property lost (Goghomo, 2003), thus indicating the necessity to begin intervention at this site. Furthermore, the disappearance of the Mt Bamboutos forest would mean the gradual disappearance of some of the major rivers in Cameroon including the Manyu, Noun, Mifi and Noun. These rivers are major reservoirs for Cameroon hydro-electric projects.