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Tree Named In Honour Of Cameroonian Woman 

By Nformi Sonde Kinsai

A UK-based institution, the Royal Botanic Gardens, RBG, Kew-London, has named a local tree specie in honour of Mary Fosi Mbantenkhu, former Technical Adviser in the Ministry of Environment and Nature Protection, MINEP.

The tree-naming was in recognition of Fosi’s contributions toward research and the promotion of biodiversity conservation. The tree specie, according to Dr. Martin Cheek, Head of West Tropics of Africa Team at RBG, Kew, would henceforth be called Myrianthus fosi.

Fosi received a memento in recognition during a ceremony to make public five new Cameroon plant biodiversity books. The Red Data Cameroon Plant’s Project that published the books was supported by Darwin Initiative. Other partners in the project included the UK RBG, Kew-Herbarium, Archives and Library and the Research Institute for Agricultural Development (IRAD) and the National Herbarium of Cameroon.

Reacting to the honour given Mrs. Fosi, Patrick Akwa said when she was the Technical Adviser and Coordinator of the Focal Point on Biodiversity, MINEP benefited from a number of contacts including that of RBG and Kew. He said Government and MINEP, in particular, count on such initiatives, adding that the publications on Cameroon’s plant biodiversity would facilitate work and help in shaping biodiversity conservation policy.

Fosi Mbantenkhu described the recognition from Kew as a landmark event in her life: "I feel so humbled and highly honoured," she said, and hailed those who played a role in her professional life. She told The Post that she devoted a greater part of her life working for the promotion of biodiversity conservation at the national and international levels, reason why Kew named the tree specie in her honour.

Fosi held that the recognition is equally an honour to the Cameroon Government. She said for 17 years, she served in the then Ministry of Environment and Forestry and later in MINEP, occupying senior positions. She announced her family’s commitment to domesticate and make available thousands of Myrianthus fosi to the administration for planting.

"Presently, I am working and providing support to civil society organisations, as well as to students interested in coming up with projects on the promotion of biodiversity conservation," she told The Post. She also used the occasion to thank the UK Government for supporting Cameroon in research and biodiversity conservation efforts.

While expounding on Cameroon’s biodiversity richness, she urged young people to join groups working for the promotion of biodiversity conservation. Referring to the publications by the Red Data Cameroon Plant’s Project, she said the books would help Government and other stakeholders to know rare plant species found only in Cameroon and nowhere else in the world.

The event, which took place at the Yaounde Mvog-Betsi Zoological Garden, was attended by the Secretary General of MINEP, Patrick Akwa Kum Bong, the British High Commissioner to Cameroon, Joshi Bharat, and the Director of IRAD, Jacob Ngeve.

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