However, environmentalists fear the overexploitation of the mangroves that protect Cameroon from rising seas may increase risks along the entire coastline, magnified by population migration to the country’s southwestern coast.
Scientists at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) said in a report last year that the world cannot afford to ignore the unique importance of mangroves as it grapples with the effects of climate change.
“Even if we negate all benefits of mangroves as forests, their value as the ‘shore-line protector’ should be enough to convince us to conserve them,” said Youssoufa Bele, one of the report’s authors. The trees’ roots spread across a large area, soaking up water and encouraging sedimentation, he explained.
In Africa, as in many other parts of the world, efforts to combat deforestation have focused on inland tropical forests.
But Youssoufa and CIFOR report co-author Denis Sonwa believe more attention should be paid to wetter areas and water forests.