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6 Wetlands Of International Importance Identified In Cameroon 

By Nformi Sonde Kinsai

The Minister of the Environment and the Protection of Nature, MINEP, Pierre Helé, has disclosed that six wetlands of international importance have been identified in Cameroon.
He made the disclosure, February 2, at the Yaounde Mvog-Betsi Zoological Garden, during an official ceremony to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Ramsar Convention on wetlands.

The theme of the commemoration was: "The Forest For Water and Wetlands." The Minister disclosed in a speech at the occasion that, Cameroon adhered to the Convention on Wetlands, which came into being in 1971, on January 13, 2006.

On the choice of the theme, Helé said it was crafted by the UN considering that 2011 was declared as the International Year of the Forests. He talked of the health and socio-economic importance of the forests and outlined some of their advantages to include the regulation of the water cycle – an important element in sustaining wetlands, its contribution against negative effects of climate change, amongst others.

Talking about Cameroon’s riches with regards to wetlands, Helé noted that from an inventory of hundreds of wetlands conducted, the country now boasts of six wetlands of international importance. These, according to the Minister, include the flood plain of Waza Logone, the wetlands of the Bakassi Peninsula, part of the Ntem and Sanaga Rivers, the crater lake of Barombi-Mbo and Lake Chad. 

He recalled that wetlands are ecosystems with depth of not more than six metres and where water is the most determinant factor. Stating that by adhering to the Convention Cameroon is manifesting it willingness to manage the wetlands for the wellbeing of the population, Helé said this was marked by the creation of the National Ramsar Committee and the national focal point to deal specifically with issues of wetlands.

In addition, and projecting the importance Cameroon attaches to wetlands, Helé said a Network of Parliamentarians on wetlands was created while several integrated management projects such as the Ebogo Ramsar site, Cameroon’s portion of Lake Chad and the Bakassi Peninsula are being elaborated.

He also disclosed that since November 2008, Cameroon is a member of the Conference of Committee – the highest decision making organ of the Ramsar Convention. He acknowledged, however, that in spite of the progress made, the Government still needs to put in much for the population to directly feel the impact of the results recorded so far. He recommended the elaboration of a national policy on wetlands as one of the priorities for the said objective to be attained.

"To succeed in drawing benefits from wetlands by the population, we must ensure the respect of environmental norms in their exploitation," Helé told his collaborators and other stakeholders working in the domain of nature protection, preservation and conservation. He also urged public administrations, NGOs and development partners to adopt a multi-sectoral approach in the management of ecosystems.

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