In the forest area of eastern Cameroon, environmental protection organizations and indigenous communities are calling for an end to the overexploitation of the rare plant species called moabi.
The gradual disappearance of moabi makes Cameroon a poor student in the conservation of this rare essence. The impact is already being felt in the life of forest communities.
In the villages of Ntoumvo’o and Kabilone in eastern Cameroon, the evocation of Moabi by indigenous forest communities is already in the past. You have to travel dozens of kilometers to find a foot of this large tree once close to the concessions.
“Where logging has gone to find a moabi, it is not easy”, is alarmed Cédric Morel, a young man from the village of Ntoumvo’o. “Le moabi is disappearing “, he adds.
“In the community forests around our houses, they cut down everything there was like moabi”, denounces Jean Paul Ngufo, inhabitant of the village Nomedjoh.
From 2009 to 2018, 109,000 cubic meters of moabi were exported to France and Belgium, reveals a recent documentary. Its author, Achille Wankeu, speaks “of a petrol exploited illegally “.
“The problem is to reconstitute the stock of moabi that we need to both generate seeds for the populations and produce large volumes of wood for logging and at this level, which is today ‘ hui no longer allows these two requests to be satisfied “, entrusts Achille Wankeu to VOA Africa.
Moabi is a very popular species in the international market for the quality of its wood, but in forest areas, moabi is very useful for other reasons.
“We use it for rites, we use the leaves and bark of the moabi as medicine, we use the seeds to extract food oil and cosmetic oil it is with this oil that women maintain their hair. in the villages “, explains Dr Samuel Nguiffo, secretary general of the Center for the Environment and Development, a non-profit association.
Faced with the threat of disappearance of moabi, nurseries are emerging to preserve this resource on the initiative of Tropical Forest and rural development, a local NGO.
In the villages of Ndomzock and Kabilone, plants were distributed to the villagers. Marie, a resident of Kabilone village, received a dozen moabi plants that she grows in her cocoa field.
Lobbying and activism
Other actors want to go much further. They propose that this resource be included in the CITES initiative, the convention on international trade in endangered species of wild fauna and flora. It is an intergovernmental agreement that began in 1973 in Washington.
The Cameroonian government plans to organize in unified chiefdoms the indigenous Baka people who make multiple use of Moabi. This administrative recognition should enable them to benefit from development and conservation projects for their natural resources.