Regenerating riperian forests in urban Cameroon

Create native, wild forests around fresh water bodies in urban towns in Cameroon by the innovative Miyawaki method

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Eligibility Criteria

  • I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria and terms of the Act for Biodiversity Challenge and that I am eligible to apply.
  • I am 18 years old or older.

Initiative's representative name

Limbi Blessing Tata

Initiative's representative date of birth

16th July 1983

Initiative's representative gender

  • Woman

Headquarters location: country

  • Cameroon

Headquarters location: city

Buea

Where are you making a difference?

SAME

Website or social media url(s)

LinkedIn: Limbi Blessing Tata Facebook: Irvingia

Date Started

1st December 2016

Project Stage

  • Growth (have moved past the very first activities; working toward the next level of expansion)

Yearly Budget : What is your current yearly budget for the initiative?

  • €10k - €50k

Organization Type

  • Nonprofit/NGO

1. Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder(s) to get started or the story of how you saw the potential for this project to succeed.

Shubhendhu Sharma and I met in India and he talked of converting lawns to forests at a fee. 'That is absurd', i thought. Where i come from, people are 'reclaiming' their backyards from forests. Not long, i came back home to Buea, to our usual water scarcity. Frustrated, I started considering a possible solution to the over 2decade long water crisis and stumbled on a research paper that stated that the scarcity was caused by mismanagement of water sources. I made a tour of the city's 5 main water catchments and none had 2 trees around. Catchments were in a state of chronic deforestation and often dried up during dry season. Many have resorted to wells which are still not enough. After-all, creating forests might actually be a great idea.

2. The problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

Buea is located on the eastern slopes of Mt. Cameroon. Mt. Cameroon is an active volcano, hence the soils in and around Buea are very fertile. This fertile soils coupled with its humid climate and its proximity to seaport led to the influx of thousands of farmers from all over Cameroon and the creation of plantations in the 80s. This led to indiscriminate cutting down of trees in search of arable land. Hence watersheds and catchments have been deforested causing water scarcity.

3. Your solution: How are you working to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

1. Recharge ground water and solve water scarcity: Research has it that over 86% of the population of Buea experience water shortages as a result of poor water management and not due to physical or economic water scarcity. The water table has been affected and by creating forests around 5major catchments, we want to restore the resource. 2. Regenerating forests also means bringing back the benefits and value of forests (spices, fruits, nuts, honey, medicines etc) into the lives of the people. Deforestation for forest dependent people is the loss of a permanent repository of wealth and long standing savings deposit from many generations. 3. Train the next generation of rewilders: We train young people on how to create native, wild forest using the innovative miyawaki method. We also iterate the place of forest in their origin and evolution. As such, we are committed to creating miyawaki forests (not planting trees) around the 5 major water catchments in Buea within 36months. We hope to that this recharges ground water, sooth local temperatures, revamp the biodiversity of the area and act as a source of livelihood (non-timber forest products) to especially women.

4. Innovation: How are you innovating or using unique approaches to solve the problem?

The Miyawaki technique is an innovative forest regeneration technique that restores indigenous ecosystems and natural vegetations by practically forcing, reproducing and accelerating natural successional times. With >82% survival rate, the method demands collaboration and participation of local communities. Forests created using the Miyawaki method are 30times denser, grow 10times faster, recharge ground water 30times faster, are 30times better habitat for pollinators, have 30 times better Carbon-dioxide absorption capacity and conserve soil properties 30times better. They are 100% natural and designed to mimic historical indigenous forests and hence are 100% as bio-diverse. They require maintenance until when they become self-sustaining.

5. Collaboration: How does your initiative seek to bring key players together to preserve biodiversity?

As a matter of protocol, the miyawaki method demands collaboration with and participation of local communities in planning and especially implementation. As such we work with people from across all social and economic as spheres of life; traditional councils, all people in the neighbourhoods, schools, churches, other NGOs. The traditional council led by the chief or selected notable champions the course (we are often in the background). All unskilled labour is provided by indigenous youths at a fee. This to encourage ownership of the project and ensure effective monitoring. Given that we are the first to implement the method in Cameroon and the Congo Basin, we collaborate with media houses to spread word on the method. We are building a network of rewilders that is made up of individuals, NGOs, village water catchment committees, community forest management boards. We are looking at compiling a Cameroon/Congo Basin specific miyawaki protocol; warranting collaboration with researcher

6. Impact: how has your project made a difference so far — in terms of both business outputs and social impact? How do you plan on measuring progress?

Stagnant stream (blocked by refuse) are now following freely. Each catchment supplies over 5000households. Socially, it has made some impacts; it has brought about community cohesion. The beneficial communities now organize clean up campaigns around catchments. Business wise, we still have some work to do. We are keeping tract of results so as present them to municipal councils for partnerships in the future. Also for business purposes, we have a tree nursery that in 12 months will have seedlings most of the known tree species in Cameroon. Our forests have lessened the effects of soil erosion from rainwater run-off and improved soil quality. They serve as shelter for many small animals especially birds and have rendered the areas cooler while providing better air quality.

7. Growth strategies: what are your main strategies for scaling your impact?

We want to spread to all towns in Cameroon that suffer water scarcity. We are also looking at setting up a platform for training. We are hoping to get partnership with the water supply company, Cameroon Water Facility, Urban councils and other NGOs

8. Creating shared value: How does your initiative create value for society? Or different stakeholders?

The importance of water cannot be over emphasized. Again in the era of climate change, we are hoping to increase access to portable water to the average Cameroonian.

9. Financial sustainability plan: can you tell us about your plan to fund your project and how that plan will be sustainable in the short, medium, and long term?

In the short term we depend on funding from donor agencies. We are however hoping to be accredited in the water supply value chain in the future.

10. Team: what is the current composition of your current team (types of roles, qualifications, full-time vs. part-time, board members, etc.), and how do you plan to evolve the team’s composition as the project grows?

Limbi Blessing: Botanist/conservationist - team leader Ndimuh Bertrand: Communicator - PR officer Agborkang Godfred: Botanist - Site manager Ngwani Bertina: Educationist - Head of Training

11. How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Search engine

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