SETAC Trees for Africa Initiative
Audrey Barletta-Bergan, GAB Consulting, Lamstedt, Germany and Dave Arnold, SETAC Europe, Brussels, Belgium
At the long range planning meeting of SETAC Europe in October 2010, SETAC Europe Council member Audrey Barletta-Bergan put forward a proposal that SETAC Europe supported the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Billion Trees Campaign, particularly during the United Nations’ International Year of Forests, 2011. It was agreed by Council that we should support tree planting specifically in Africa because SETAC Africa is a branch of SETAC Europe.
It was decided to launch the trees for Africa initiative at the opening ceremony of the SETAC Europe annual meeting in Milan. In discussions with a UNEP associate programme officer, Leah Wanambwa Naess of the Billion Trees Campaign in Nairobi, Kenya, we were offered a video-clip of tree planting in Nairobi that was shown at the opening ceremony to announce SETAC Europe’s support for the initiative. A donation box was used at the meeting to receive one euro contributions from delegates.
A total of 1271 euros was raised at the annual meeting in Milan 2011, mostly through a substantial donation from the Congress Centre (MIC). The catering manager of the MIC had been at the opening ceremony and was moved to donate the balance of what SETAC Europe owed in settlement of catering costs ( over 1100 euros) to the trees campaign; a very generous act!
We have donated this money to enhance a project in Cameroon that is expanding and conserving the Mbiame communal forest for the provision of ecosystem services including water supplies, biodiversity and carbon. This project was selected because SETAC Europe and SETAC globally have built a strong partnership with Cameroon’s Patricia Bi Asanga Fai (vice president SETAC Africa) from the University of Dschang, who led the organization of the SETAC Africa meeting in the University of Buea in association with the Cameroon Society of Toxicology (CSTS).
Figure 1. A view of the intact portion of the Mbiame communal forest. Access into the intact 300 hectares of forest is highly restricted because it contains a community shrine that can be seen in the center of this photo.
Figure 2. Communities depend on the Mbiame communal forest for water, but taps run dry in the dry season.
The Mbiame Communal Forest is surrounded by 15 villages with a population of about 57,893 inhabitants. All these villages depend on this forest for water. Its total surface area is 1050ha; 750 of which is highly degraded. This is where tree planting is taking place. The major threats to the watershed include extensive subsistence agriculture and low harvests, weak community tenure rights that lead to unsustainable resource use and invasive species causing water and farm/grazing land shortages. Because of free access most stakeholders are unwilling to invest in sustainable management practices like regeneration. Fortunately access into the intact 300 ha of forest is highly restricted because it has a well protected community shrine.
Within the context of the Cameroon forestry law, the Mbiame forest is classified as a non permanent forest, meaning it can be converted into other uses such as agriculture and animal husbandry. Because of the important role the forest play as a watershed protector, source of fuel wood and non timber forest products, the community has commissioned the Forest Management Council (FMC) to protect the forest. The FMC has neither government support nor revenues, so management is voluntary. SETAC’s support will help in seed acquisition, nursery material, etc. The goal is to enhance the water supply potential of the Mbiame communal forest by restoring the degraded communal forest using analogue forestry techniques, and improving tree cover in the peripheral zone of the watershed through the practice of agro-forestry.
Tree planting was carried out under the auspices of UNEP on 26 August in association with the Centre for Nursery Development and Eru Propagation (CENDEP) in Bafut and Mbiame in northwestern Cameroon. It was coordinated by Wirsiy Eric Fondzenyuy. Patricia Bi was present during the planting representing SETAC. A short video of the event is available on the SETAC web site and on YouTube.
Figure 3. FMC members with a map showing where tree planting is taking place.
Figure 4. SETAC Africa vice president Dr. Patricia Bi Asanga Fai taking part in the 26 August tree planting event.
CENDEP registers the number of trees planted in forestry projects on the UNEP Billion Tree Programme website and provides technical reports through bimonthly newsletters. SETAC’s donation enabled CENDEP to encourage the individual farmers they have trained to produce more trees for reforestation activities.
SETAC Europe is very pleased to be able to support UNEP the Billion Trees Campaign and we have been considering a number of ideas on how to further develop this initiative. The next step for SETAC’s support for the UNEP Billion Trees Campaign will be discussed at the long range planning meeting of SETAC Europe in October 2011.
Author contact information: Audrey.Barletta-Bergan@gab-consult.de, firstname.lastname@example.org
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