A degraded water catchment area before restoration.
May 22 is the International Day for Biological Diversity, but what is biodiversity and why does it matter?
Biodiversity is everything from tiny microbes and fungi to ancient trees and animals. All these organisms depend on each other and coexist together in a careful balance which is an ecosystem. When biodiversity is affected the ripples are felt deeply, like in Mount Bamboutos.
Mount Bamboutos is a once beautiful area of mountains, centred on an extinct volcano in west Cameroon. It used to be a biodiversity hotspot, teaming with cross river gorillas and chimpanzees and countless other creatures. But the pressures of urbanisation and agriculture have led to mass deforestation.
Today, large parts of Mount Bamboutos have been almost completely deforested. This extreme habitat loss has caused a local extinction of many species that used to thrive on the mountain.
Furthermore, the intense farming has led to soil erosion and food and water contamination, so farmers are using high levels of synthetic fertilisers and pesticides to compensate for the smaller yields and loss of income which is only exacerbating the problem.
For the 30,000 rural people who depend directly on the ecosystem for their livelihood, and the countless species of animals and plants who used to flourish there, the landscape degradation is life threatening.
International Tree Foundation have been running an ambitious project to reforest Mount Bamboutos through local communities with ERuDeF, a local conservation organisation. Over the last three years the project has worked with local farmers to adopt sustainable practices that provide an income without compromising the land.
Farmers have been taught to manage nurseries and grow and graft saplings. Through agroforestry and sustainable farming, communities are planting trees, enriching the soil, restoring the environment and encouraging biodiversity to return and flourish.
Despite the political instability in the area and the challenges presented by the pandemic, 766,992 trees were planted on farms, in watersheds, along streams and rivers and in community forests over the last three years.
Our efforts have helped Mount Bamboutos, but there’s still much more to be done there and in hundreds of other regions and forests around the world. Donate now and be a part of the restoration.
ITF staff member, Paul, visiting the project back in March 2019.
Young saplings are growing well thanks to the project.
Avocado seedlings in Mbelenka nursery, Cameroon.
The Mount Bamboutos project was made possible with thanks to a grant from The Darwin Initiative, a UK government grants scheme that helps to protect biodiversity and the natural environment through locally based projects worldwide, and TreeSisters, a grant giving reforestation charity based in the UK.