INTERNATIONAL DAY OF BIODIVERSITY 2010
 

Previous action days


A cooperation of


On behalf of



Cameroun: The vital services of a complex, yet threatened ecosystem

Action Day in Bakingili

Findings and Conclusions

Downloads

Gallery

Action Day in Bakingili

The Bakingili Community Forest (BCF) covers a total area of 922ha. On the occasion of the International Biodiversity Day celebrated in Cameroon, participants drawn from Government Services at the National, Regional and Divisional Services, Council Authorities, Civil Society/NGOs, the Private Sector and Local Communities including the Press and national taxonomy experts, made an observation/study field visit to the Limbe Botanical Garden and to one segment covering 122 ha of the BCF.


At the Limbe Botanic Garden, participants went round individually and some in groups looking at the varied flora/botanic species of the garden. After that, they all gathered in one spot where the Conservator of the Garden addressed them on the history and flora diversity of the Garden.


From the Limbe Botanic Garden, participants moved to Bakingili at the foot of Mount Cameroon where they were met by the Mayor of Idenau Council and the Regent Chief of Bakingili. After a brief official welcome by the Mayor and Chief, participant moved to the Bakingili Community Forest (BCF). The starting point of the field visit was a location – a seemingly fallowed farmland (a type of buffer zone) between the CDC oil palm plantation and the BCF. At the starting point, participants were briefed on the objectives of the field visit – to observe, describe, and discuss the biodiversity of the section of the BCF through which they had to walk in terms of habitat types, species, socioeconomic uses, impacts and threats on biodiversity, etc. Participants were divided into nine groups based on specific subject matter that included trees, shrubs, snails, ants, butterflies, reptiles/amphibians, birds, Non Timber Forest Products etc., and each group was lead by a specialist on the subject matter. After the briefing the nine groups moved into the BCF through different directions.


At the end of more than two hours of field study visits into the BCF participants returned and converged at the same spot from where they had taken-off for the visit. This was time to discuss their experiences and findings in the BCF. Each expert briefed the participants on the findings of their group, followed by questions and discussions.


To top

Findings and Conclusions

A detailed report on the many findings of the action day, including an account of the identified species and their functions in the ecosystem, can be found in the downloads section further below. Here is a brief summary:


ECOLOGY: The Bakingili Community Forest (BCF) is a type of montane ecosystem that has suffered degradation. The area of the BCF can be divided into four ecological zones, namely: i) The CDC Oil Palm plantation zone; ii) A seemingly fallowed farmland that starts from a gentle slope suddenly rising towards a secondary forest area; iii) A Transition Belt characterized by degraded secondary forest and long abandoned farmland; iv) The high Forest Belt.


FLORA: During a survey in 1998 botanists found and identified 2435 different specis of plants, underlining the spectacular biodiversity in the region. During this field trip a total of 12 species belonging to 10 families were identified in the high forest belt, some of which providing interesting ecosystem services.


MAMMALS: The Mount Cameroon region is well known for its highly diverse mammalian fauna with a good number being endemic to the region. During the field trip not a single mammal could be spotted which might partly be due to the noise of our big group. But it appears, since mammals are especially vulnerable to habitat degradation and destruction, that the real degree of degradation was displayed by the absence of mammals. Even indirect observation (tracks, feeding traces and feces) could not reveal the presence of mammals in the BCF, again underlining the high degree of degradation in the area.


BIRDS: Recent studies have revealed a 60% reduction in bird species and family richness from conversion of forest into plantations. The visited ecosystem is under high pressure from agricultural encroachment, notably from the creation of plantations by CDC and the community forest is aiming at reducing this pressure. Mount Cameroon is particularly rich in birds biodiversity with about 370 species recorded. Two of these are endemic to the region, the Mount Cameroon Francolin and the Mount Cameroon Speirobs. The loss of this mountain ecosystem will lead to the loss of these two species on the entire planet. Since observing birds with a big group is difficult and the time of the field visit around noon was resting time for many species, a total of “only” 25 species was identified.


REPTILES AND AMPHIBIANS: The habitat examined appeared to be suitable for some tree-frog species and some snakes. During the field visit we were unfortunately unable to identify any reptiles or amphibians. We got a glimpse of one lizard which disappeared immediately in the dense undergrowth making identification impossible. Due to the absence of streams or ponds it was stated that the sighting of numerous frog or chameleon species was unlikely anyways. It was also stated that good management and thus protection of the remaining forest area could nevertheless help to provide a habitat for decent population of reptiles and amphibians.


MOTHS AND BUTTERFLIES: Even though Cameroon is known as a country with high numbers of butterfly and moth species, only two species of butterflies could be found during our field visit. This alarmingly low diversity is most likely due to the extensive use of pesticides and herbicides in the plantations surrounding the BCF.


ANTS: Opposing to most of the other taxa examined, the ants were quite abundant and the number of species found was relatively high. Within the family Formidae (Ants), 6 sub-familys were identified, comprising 8 genus and 12 species. Besides the impressive diversity we were also able to observe a symbiosis between one of the ant species and a tree species. The tree has specialized structures that shelter ants and thus provides the ants with nesting sites and food via production of extrafloral nectar. The workers of the ants patrol young leaves in order to protect their host against herbivorous insects, thus creating a mutual association between the plant and the ant colony.


NON TIMBER FOREST PRODUCTS (NTFP's): It was found that even a degraded forest like the BCF can still provide a good number of NTFP’s but that further degradation is threatening these important ecosystem services for the local population. A total of 9 species could be identified of which 4 were edible species and 5 were medicinal plants.


Conclusions

The degree of threats to the biodiversity of the BCF as a result of anthropogenic activities, let alone from natural disasters – especially volcanic eruptions, is obvious. While natural disaster cannot be prevented, there is a need to conserve the ecosystems as well as to ensure rehabilitation of degraded biodiversity habitats of the BCF zone. It is paramount in view of the important services and functions provided by the ecosystems and their inhabitants for the benefit of the human community. In addition to that it should be mentioned that intact and diverse ecosystems show an elevated resilience to changes induced by anthropogenic activities, climate change and natural disasters.


To top

Downloads

Presentation_Biodiversity_Action_Day_Cameroun.pdf

A very lively presentation on the Biodiversity Action Day 2010 in Limbe, Bakingili, Cameroun

5.6 M

Report_Biodiversity_Action_Day_Cameroun.pdf

Full report on species, findings and results of the Camerounian Biodiversity Action Day 2010

101 K

To top

Gallery

To top

Photos: Peter Schauerte, GTZ