Dry seasons are very delicate moments in the preservation of biodiversity in the Northern Zone of Southern Cameroons because just a spark of fires most often results in hectares of forest consumed by wildfire.
Most of these bushfires are ignited by farmers who practice (ankara) slash-and-burn in farms around forest peripheries. Most of the fire from the ankaras sometimes accidentally jumps into the forest, especially at night when farmers must have left smoldering mounts of ankara at the mercy of gushing dry winds that characterize the period.
Carelessly discarded Cigarette stumps by smokers during this period have resulted in terrible wildfires and caused property damage and killed several animals in the bushes. Forest Conservationists have called on smokers not to smoke around farm areas or the forests because many of them unconsciously discard cigarette stumps rather into the forest.
Kilum-Ijim and Bamenda Highland Forest, according to Mr. Wirsiy Emmanuel of Bamenda-based Cameroon Gender and Environmental Watch, CAMGEW, are at risk of losing their biodiversity because bush fires are very common in the area. The peak period, he stated, starts from November to April when the rainy season sets in fully.
To assist communities, fight back or prevent the frequent occurrences of bushfires, a guide was produced by CAMGEW and put in public space for exploitation. The guide, Mr. Wirsiy says, should be a source of inspiration to community leaders, groups, or individuals who are ready to prevent bushfires. CAMGEW, he declared, will continue working with community leaders and stakeholders to build stronger communities and support with alternative means to put food on the table and discourage the slash-and-burn to preserve the forest.
“Considering that we do not want the situation to get worse we need solidarity which is our insurance to sustain this advocacy in the fight against bushfire,” Mr. Wirsiy reiterated.
With this same spirit, CAMGEW expects Kilum-Ijim forest leaders and stakeholders who received training on bushfire prevention and management to update their knowledge on how best to advocate against the destruction of forest, biodiversity, and water catchment. CAMGEW also expects them to share bushfire prevention, management skills, and experiences with community groups and members to make their communities stronger.
“We are stronger together especially when we are each other’s keeper, this can be demonstrated if we work together to end bushfire,” he said.
CAMGEW has been working in the Kilum-Ijim forest area project since 2010 and has been able to gather information and experience which is readily being shared to protect the forest, biodiversity, and lives.