By Regina Leke Tandag, Environmental Journalist, Cameroon
Cameroon’s head of State, President Paul Biya has ordered the cancellation of two logging concessions attributed to more than 680.000 hectares of virgin forest in the Nkam and Sanaga Maritime division of the Littoral Region.
A communiqué from the Prime Minister’s office on August 11, 2020, announced the government of Cameroon has decided to withdraw an earlier decree of 14 July 2020 creating Forest Management Units in the forest home to several endangered plants and animal species. For most local conservation actors and indigenous Banen people who had been denouncing logging plans, this new decision of the government of Cameroon is a big win for the survival of rare species who call this forest home and for the Banen people.
“I can go to bed in peace knowing our heritage has been preserved. A big thank you to the Head of State” His Majesty, Chief Yetina Victor, Ruler among the indigenous Banen people, told this Reporter.
The richly biodiverse Ebo forest is one of the last intact forests in Central Africa. It is home to the rarest subspecies of the Nigeria-Cameroon Chimpanzee that both crack nuts and fish for termites. The forest is also the ancestral home of at least 40 indigenous communities.
The people note, the new decision of the government gives hope to communities that have been campaigning for the right to return to their origin. “Our deads are buried in that forest. This is our home. This new stance of the government will accelerate our plans to return home and relive the beautiful moments we had before independence” Chief Yetina added.
While applauding the move, conservationists say there is still much work ahead, “We propose the government should initiate an inclusive and transparent land-use planning process”, Dr Ekwoge Abwe, Manager of the Ebo Forest Research Project hinted.
Green Peace Africa Reacts
Since April, local communities, scientists, Greenpeace Africa and other NGOs have been campaigning to #SaveEboForest.
As of last night, the government of Cameroon seems to have suspended logging plans. However, the fate of Ebo forest – the communities dependent on it and the wildlife that live in it – still remains unclear.
Greenpeace Africa remains vigilant in its support of community rights, participatory land-use planning and permanent forest protection.
Tal Harris, International Communications Coordinator, Greenpeace Africa
Greenpeace earlier described the Cameroon government’s logging plans as a death sentence to the rare species living in this forest calling on the world to sign a petition denouncing the move, a petition that generated hundreds of thousands of signatories before government’s new stance on August 11, 2020.