Cameroon says it is considering restoring 12 million hectares of deforested land with the aim of redressing the challenges of dwindling forests and help mitigate the effects of climate change.
Government officials say restoring the desolated landscapes, will help local communities develop sustainably, increase their resilience to climate change and contribute to climate change mitigation.
Hele Pierre, Cameroon’s minister of environment and nature protection, said the project is the biggest so far in the Congo Basin, home to the world’s second-largest tropical rainforest. To him, the action to restore the landscapes will help to reduce the forest loss gap.
However, environmental experts are of the opinion that while forest restoration is welcome, there is an even more critical need to protect existing forests, which provide the greatest benefits in terms of limiting climate change and protecting biodiversity.
Cameroon’s forests are the second largest in Africa, at more than 23 million hectares. But in recent years, the country has seen a surge in deforestation and forest degradation. Going by a Global Forest Watch report, forest loss in Cameroon records 777,000 hectares between 2001 and 2015, with half of this occurring since 2012.
Experts say the losses not only hurt ecosystems and drive climate change, but hit the country’s economy as well.
According to Paul Donfack, a consultant with the African Forest Forum, the economic and environmental impact of forest loss in Cameroon is immeasurable, necessitating urgent measures to redress the problem. In reaction, government has said it is tackling the deforestation problem on two fronts, by reinforcing forest management to protect existing forests and moving to restore those lost