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I am very concerned to learn of the decrees signed by the Cameroon government on 4th February 2020 proposing the licensing of two Forestry Management Units that would replace Ebo Forest, Littoral Region, Cameroon. These logging concessions would disrupt and destroy much of the remaining forest.
This forest has international and national importance, as it is the most important functionally intact ecosystem in the Gulf of Guinea biodiversity hotspot. Notably, it is home to five species that are fully protected under the Cameroon Wildlife Law Class A, and are classified as Endangered or Critically Endangered by the IUCN. These are: forest elephants (Loxodonta africana cyclotis); the potential new gorilla (Gorilla gorilla) subspecies; the most important population of Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes ellioti); the most important remaining drill (Mandrillus leucophaeus) population; and one of only two remaining populations of Preuss’s red colobus (Piliocolobus preussi).
As I am sure you are well aware, we live in a world where nature and wildlife are in serious decline. The Global Assessment of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, published last year by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, highlighted the unprecedented and accelerating nature of this decline, and estimated that a million species are at risk of extinction, including many African species. Cameroon is home to 46 mammal species that are threatened with extinction, including two species of chimpanzee and two sub-species of gorilla. Forest reserves and protected areas play a crucial role in the conservation of biodiversity, and provide a vital lifeline for the very future of many of these threatened species. Furthermore, this forest region falls within the Congo Basin, which is itself a critical ecosystem, providing global ecosystem services and helping mitigate climate change.
I therefore call upon you to raise this issue with relevant ministers, and urge them to engage with representatives of the Cameroon government on this important issue. The government of Cameroon should be encouraged to protect Ebo Forest for its globally significant conservation values and for posterity, and to recognise and grasp the opportunity to support conservation to maintain biodiversity, reduce carbon emissions, and preserve the ecosystem, for the long-term benefit of wildlife and people alike.
Thank you for your consideration of this important matter.